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Riding on the Edge: A Motorcycle Outlaw's Tale [Kindle Edition]

John Hall
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Ride with author John Hall into the turbulent world of 1960s bike club culture, from his beginnings at an upstart motorcycle club to his rise to the Long Island chapter president of the Pagans, a club that the FBI called “the most violent criminal organization in America.” Follow him into the Pagan heartland of Pennsylvania where he fell in love, got in a roadhouse brawl over a honky-tonk angel, and eventually went to jail for “takin’ care a club business.” Now after a career as a journalist and college professor, he returns to the violent days of his youth and smashes up stereotypes like he once smashed up bars, resurrecting long-dead brothers in a style reminiscent of Jack Kerouac and Mark Twain. Hall presents them as they really were: hard living, hard loving, hard drinking, hard fighting rebels, but also hardworking, patriotic, loyal, and lovable characters. Outlaws, yes, but outlaws as American as apple pie.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Motorcycle.com Review by Dustin Woods (5.28.09)

"Few people are able to retrospectively recount the life of an outlaw biker with such accuracy and candor as John Hall, mostly because few people so deeply entrenched within such a culture ever make it out alive. If rival gangs, bar brawls or bike accidents don’t kill them, years of hard drinking and hard living usually do. Hall is an exception to these rules as he successfully transcended this great divide. Proving that sometimes our justice system actually works and men can be rehabilitated, Hall turned his life around from being the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang the FBI called “the most violent criminal organization in America” and being incarcerated to becoming an acclaimed journalist and college professor.


Hall demonstrates eloquence and intellect, traditionally unheard of with first person recounts of biker culture. Documenting historical sociological connections to the beliefs and brotherhood of medieval Vikings, Hall paints a sometimes entertaining, occasionally chilling picture of men who live beyond the boundaries of our society yet will do anything to uphold the sacred values and tradition of their heritage. While other biker clubs were merely cruising for chicks and looking for kicks, Hall explains how the Pagans became one of the most feared and respected clubs in the country. Men who lack the fear of pain, death or any consequences whatsoever create a truly unruly and terrifying opponent. The often vulgar yet intuitive book definitively explains where biker culture stems from within our society and more specifically the individual, offering incredible insight into the hearts and minds of men who were vicious and violent, while at the same time adamant at preserving the structure and sanctity of their brotherhood, at all costs. Not merely anarchy for the sake of it, Hall effectively describes this truly fascinating dichotomy.

While often glorifying a lifestyle that shocked and terrified the dreams and towns of law-abiding citizens, Hall also portrays the grim reality of the consequences that befall the men who live outside the laws of society. Whether you are interested in the sociology of such sub cultures or just want to read a firsthand account of life within an outlaw biker club, Riding on the Edge will surely quench this thirst like a cold beer at a biker rally."



Steppin' Out Magazine

“Unlike a ranting hoodlum who might say whatever he feels like saying or exaggerate details, this author did his homework with regard to facts, figures and dates. This is truly a smart, solid and just plain damn good read! If you would like to tak ea look back through the window of time to the late 60’s biker scene at its most intense level, you should pick up a copy of Mr. Hall’s book.”



RoadRUNNER Magazine

“If you've ever dreamed of being an outlaw, you might think each chapter of Riding on the Edge is a badass bedtime story for adults. But if anecdotes of beer drinking and womanizing don't appeal to your inner rebel, then the thought-provoking reflections of author John Hall might interest you. A college professor and political columnist, Hall's "first life" was spent riding a Triumph in the 1960s with the outlaw club, the Pagans. Ever wondered why bikers get a bad name? Riding on the Edge breaks down the stereotypes and newspaper headlines to reveal the raw moments in time which spawned them. And there is no shortage of historical references or interesting facts in this book. However, John Hall's writing is so down-to-earth it seems as if you're listening to a favorite uncle spin a tale. And with characters like Satan, Big Dutch, & Sleepy weaving in and out of the storyline, you may never want that tale to end.”

From the Back Cover

In the 1960s, John Hall, a Harley-riding hell-raiser, hooked up with the Pagans, a group of like-minded individuals who went on to become the largest outlaw motorcycle club on the East Coast. Hall and the Pagans rode roughshod across the Eastern Seaboard throughout the 1960s, until John and six other Pagans ended up in the Pennsylvania State Penitentiary. While in prison John began taking college classes and earned several degrees.
 
Now after a career as a journalist and college professor, he returns to the violent days of his youth and smashes up stereotypes like he once smashed up bars, resurrecting long-dead brothers in a writing style that is part Raymond Carver and part Jack Kerouac. Hall presents the Pagans as they really were: hard-living, hard-loving, hard-drinking, hard-fighting rebels, but also hardworking patriots, loyal, lovable characters, a band of brothers whose outlandish behavior forged an all-American outlaw legend in the tradition of Jesse James, Doc Holliday, John Dillinger, and Pretty Boy Floyd.
 
Riding on the Edge: A Motorcycle Outlaw’s Tale tells the story of John and the Pagans as they rode hard through the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, doing their damnedest to die young and leave good-looking corpses.
 
Bikernet.com
“This is a good story about a lifestyle and chapter in American history that we will never see again. Back when America was a free country and you were innocent until proven guilty, before political correctness and before the patriot act. Read this and remember or imagine what it must have been like to be so free!”
 
Motorcycle.com
Few people are able to retrospectively recount the life of an outlaw biker with such accuracy and candor as John Hall, mostly because few people so deeply entrenched within such a culture ever make it out alive. If rival gangs, bar brawls or bike accidents don’t kill them, years of hard drinking and hard living usually do. Documenting historical sociological connections to the beliefs and brotherhood of medieval Vikings, Hall paints a sometimes entertaining, occasionally chilling picture of men who live beyond the boundaries of our society yet will do anything to uphold the sacred values and tradition of their heritage. Whether you are interested in the sociology of such sub cultures or just want to read a firsthand account of life within an outlaw biker club, <I>Riding on the Edge <M> will surely quench this thirst like a cold beer at a biker rally.
 
RoadRUNNER Magazine
“Riding on the Edge breaks down the stereotypes and newspaper headlines to reveal the raw moments in time which spawned them. John Hall's writing is so down-to-earth it seems as if you're listening to a favorite uncle spin a tale.”


Product Details

  • File Size: 511 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Motorbooks; First edition (September 15, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GJVXUM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,415 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Effort September 14, 2008
Format:Hardcover
"Riding on the Edge" is, IMHO, the finest work of 1%er biker literature on the stands today. Written by an Old School biker and original member of the Pagans MC, this is a thoughtful, respectful and captivating story of what it was like to be a 1960s motorcycle outlaw.

Written by John Hall, today a professional journalist and academic, Hall's book eclipses Sonny Barger's very successful effort (Hell's Angel) and, when compared, makes a mockery of Ruben "Doc" Cavazo's recent book about himself (oh, and the Mongols MC, too).

"Riding" is a wonderful read with the best outlaw biker book cover on the stands to date. Well worth the purchase.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Work June 7, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is certainly the most well-written book by an ex-insider that was close to or at the top of one of the major 1% clubs. John Hall is a literate guy who seems to borrow some of his style from Hunter S. Thompson among others. Unlike some of the drivel that is being pumped out by some real and imagined ex-outlaws, Hall's work is superbly readable.

The only knock I have on it, and it's a Catch-22 endured by all authors in Hall's position, is that he really isn't in a position to tell us what we want to hear about some of the more "outlaw" aspects of his life with the club. He isn't going to implicate himself or others. Doc Cavazos' book about the Mongols has the same issue - there are stories to tell, but what can he do without harming his brothers? In this vein, I would say that Sonny Barger's book "Hells Angel" comes the closest to getting at the "meat." But Sonny has a huge advantage because of the ability to allude to untold published articles, stories, books, truths, untruths, etc. about the Hells Angels. There is so much out there for Sonny to address that he doesn't run the risk of exposing anything new. John Hall doesn't have that luxury.

In addition, Hall, like Cavazos, exhibits very little ego in this writing. This makes for what seems to be pretty honest, if a bit bland, account of the life as a club leader.

Also, I would have to say that the knock Hall tosses in at the end about people like Yves Lavigne and Anthony Tait is a bit clumsy, because it is out of place. But he is dead on.

This is your book if you want to experience real writing while getting an excellent account of the development of the Pagans as a club, and maybe a little history of the people and culture of eastern Pennsylvania thrown in as a bonus!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good not Great January 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover
There is very little in regards to books on the PAGANS MC, so I thought I would give this a shot. Its decent, but at times deviates into a "we partied here," "we partied there" memoir. Probably could have been edited better as there are a lot of names that make it difficult to follow who the writer is talking about.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-Written Motorcycle Prose December 30, 2008
By JL
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is probably the most intelligent and well-written account I have ever read about the motorcycle club lifestyle. The author begins each chapter with a passage from Norse mythology and presents a detailed account of the colorful characters that formed his circle of friends during the late 60's. I especially liked the vivid description of that bygone era of hard drinking blue collar types and their palpable sense of freedom (sometimes licentiousness) that we in the modern nanny state can barely understand. I also liked some of the inadvertent social commentary about the the decline of of our county's industrial heartland and the clashing social mores of that time.

I did not give this book five stars because the author leaves much unsaid. First,
what happened to the Pagan's (specifically his chapter and the others on Long Island)? He relates the fate of some individual members, but doesn't expound much upon that MC's longevity nor the membership that followed his departure. Second, he doesn't provide any information about his incarceration or his reinvention as a college professor. Perhaps, he is saving that for another book. Lastly, he gives a muted appeal to his former brothers for understanding in his account of events. Is he, in the parlance of the MC's, "Out in Bad/Good Standings"? One of the reviews in this forum, suggests that his parting may have been less than amicable.

In any event, the author tells an interesting tale and tells it well. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to know about the east coast's largest native outlaw MC.
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69 of 93 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fact and Fiction September 23, 2008
Format:Hardcover
In 2006 John Hall's literary agent James Fitzgerald of New York contacted us about the book. At that time Fitzgerald was informed that John Hall in fact did not have authorization to write, print or publish any thing about the Pagan's MC. John Hall has never contacted the club at all to seek authorization. The book is interesting to read for the most part, however it is by no means a acurate and true account of the 1 1/2 years that John Hall was a member of the club. Not only is it an exageration of his own status and position within the club, but also certain alleged events written of in the book are totally fictional and never happened. For the most part he dropped names of men that are dead now, however others are still alive and atest to the false nature of this personal account of John Hall. John Hall was nothing more than a spoke in a wheel. John Hall is not a original member of the club and does not have the respect or honor that position would grant.
Pagan Ronnie 1%
Pagan's MC
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good true story...scary and brave at the same time...
Published 18 hours ago by Jim Locke
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read.
Published 29 days ago by Shoveldog
5.0 out of 5 stars Old stories about the Pagans MC
This book was a great read and basically tells the story of 60's era Pagans MC, I was even surprised to read about the PMC in NYC! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Biker Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Service!
I have been enthralled with the subject of Outlaw Bikers since I was a youngster. This book is a helpful look into the lives of the men who choose this way of life. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Russell M. Ogg
5.0 out of 5 stars Great biker book
A mere glimpse into a Pagan's life, in the late 60's. Too bad it only accounts for a couple years.
Published 9 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative!
It gives you the positives and negatives of being in a motorcycle club culture. Many of us have dreamed of owning a Harley chopper ourselves.
Published 11 months ago by Brindle
1.0 out of 5 stars bull
this guy is a love himself blow hard. I am a real biker and this is just pure bull crap
Published 11 months ago by dennis wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read!!
My cousin used to be in a motorcycle club and I though it would be interesting to read an insider's look at what goes on inside a club. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Modeen
4.0 out of 5 stars Super Spaced out reading
This is one spaced out party from one end to the other, I think I got high reading it,, Dude rode a bike I think,,
Published 12 months ago by James Scanlan
4.0 out of 5 stars good book
Not a bad read about some wild times and some wild adventures, I like to learn about the history of motorcycle riders and this book delivers.
Published 16 months ago by N. Bradley
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