Riding on the Edge by John Hall

Riding On The Edge 2

Either I’m obsessive or this book was addicting. Riding on the Edge by John Hall was a fantastic story and I could not put it down; my nose was buried in it for three days straight! It was strikeingly different than the two 1%er books I read by Sonny Barger. Sonny’s books about the Hells Angels on the west coast happened far away from my home on the east coast and seems like another world. On the other hand John Hall’s book is about the Pagans on the east coast. Although the story takes place during the late 60’s when I was born, it seems way more real because I am thoroughly familiar with many of the towns in this story. Sonny’s books are an easy read for the average Joe but John Hall’s book is more sophisticated. Keep in mind John Hall got educated at Penn State while serving time and later became a college professor.

To illustrate the character of the members of the Pagans, Hall goes into detail about the character of the region which I found very interesting. I grew up knowing about Yankee’s and Rednecks. If you’re like me and from New England you’re a Yankee or a Northerner. Everyone from south of the Mason Dixon Line are Southerners and Rednecks. Other than New Yorkers I have never heard or read anyone describe the people in between; the people of Appalachia. John Hall goes into detail about the Irish, German and Polish blue collar workers living between the Midwest, New England and the Mason Dixon line; the area I now consider home.

John tells his story well and I want to believe every word of it. It depicts a young man coming of age during the late 60’s.  His leadership qualities land him smack dab in the middle of a growing brotherhood of east coast bikers that he see’s as a cross between teutonic knights and barbarian warriors of norse mythology. Everyone of the Pagans in John’s story is a righteous brother. Although these brothers pride themselves on being outlaws they are not “criminals”. They may get in brawls, demolish bars and violently crush rival clubs but they are in no way involved with criminal business acts. They are honest , hard working and straight forward people. It’s a Robin Hood story where our hero, the young John Hall, makes an honest living as a lithographer when he needs money. He is a hard worker but makes just enough to spend the rest of his time riding motorcycles, drinking beer and raising hell… like all red blooded americans should do. 

If you’re looking for a well written outlaw romance coming of age adventure story about bearded swastika wearing bikers (the good guys) doing bad things like drinking, fighting and more fighting then this is your book. Get it now before you die a tragic death or go to jail like the characters that Hall portrays so vividly in this mesmerizing account of his misspent youth.

9 Responses to “Riding on the Edge by John Hall”

  1. I need to read this one. Just from reading what you have written here I am thinking I might relate to the east coast way more so than the west.

  2. I think John Hall is an exceptional writer who has a story to tell and tells it well. I too enjoyed Sonnys books and found them very easy to read. I do have a problem with Sonnys belief that Harleys are mostly “junk”. He freely states that if he wasen’t in the Angels he would probably ride a BMW or Honda. Guess I am too biased to be objective. I know, I know, it’s not about what you ride.

  3. You’ve got me wanting to read this book too. I never considered myself an outlaw, actually I feel like I’m far from it. But when you talk about “riding motorcycles, drinking beer, and raising hell….” gee, that sounds scarily familiar. LOL! I definitely have my interest peaked for this one! Thanks for the review!

  4. […] He has authored two other motorcycle books published by Motorbooks as well as this piece (Riding on the Edge by John Hall is also published by Motorbooks). Given his background as editor of Easyriders he is obviously qualified to create a professional, […]

  5. The best biker book i have ever read. Being born and raised on long island I got a real kick out of the town mentioned in the book.

  6. Need to procure a copy of this. From your revue it sounds, the Pagans are toned down a lot but I like a good read.

  7. It’s a great read! Has some romance, adventure, everything! It’s very east coast as opposed to the many many west coast books. Nice to see the east represented.

  8. My father was one of the individuals mentioned in this book. And I can assure the skeptical readers that the outlaw life described seems to be somewhat under exaggerated versus being a yarn spun out of control, as has been contended. Worth the time spent to read it!

  9. Thanks for the comment. I want to read it again.

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