Hell’s Angels A Strange and Terrible Saga – book review

hell’s angels by hunter s. thompson

Hell’s Angels – A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson is more a part of our motorcycle pop sub culture history than it is an interesting book to read. It is also the book that defined a new style of writing that made Hunter S. Thompson famous: Gonzo Journalism!

Back in 1965, before I was born, our great country was experiencing race riots, Vietnam protests and ramped experimentation with drugs. The Hells Angels may have been at the height of their notoriety. Bad biker movies were a hit at the drive-ins and certain motorcycle clubs were continually in the newspapers. Any incident involving bikers was exaggerated in the press including a so called riot in Laconia, New Hampshire. California Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch published a 15-page document known as The Lynch Report based on a 10-year study of the Hells Angels and other motorcycle clubs which painted bikers as mutha rapers and murderers gone wild. Every reporter in the country wanted to get an interview with a Hells Angel. It was at this time that Hunter S. Thompson, a young writer, befriended the Angels and gained their confidence in order to write a story about them. He spent a year going on runs with them, partying with them and then got stomped by them.

The book is now dated and not as interesting a story as it may have been back in 1966 when it was published. What is interesting is the craziness. Who in his right mind would immerse himself in the middle of the most notorious MC and then write a sensationalized account of the experience? Hunter S. Thompson the inventor of Gonzo Journalism would and did! What is Gonzo Journalism? Gonzo Journalism is when the author injects himself into events and then writes about the experience in a colorful manner that blurs the lines between fact and fiction. I recommend you read about the life, career and suicide of Hunter on Wikipedia more then I recommend the book. Those of you who want to digest everything related to biker history will of course read this book out of curiosity. Click here for information on the book at Amazon.

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4 Responses to “Hell’s Angels A Strange and Terrible Saga – book review”

  1. You are more than likely right about it’s writing then to today’s writing. But back then this was something else. All the magazines were doing write ups about this subject. LOOK had a front cover of them. I was 15 when it came out. I went out and got one. I hid it from my folks. I don’t think they would have approved. The year before I’d bought my first bike a 1953 165 HD and had to hide that too. But dad found out and I was able to hide it about another year, Most all my friends read it too. And most all of us still ride. Just glad we did not join or do (some) of the stuff in the book. My by it again just to see.

  2. We both read this book a few years back. The craziness was interesting, and it was a well-written book.

  3. I need to get a copy of this book so I can read in it about Preetam Bobo. I learned about Hunters real name – Humphrey – from Birney Jarvis who IS the Hells Angel refered to as Preetam Bobo by Humphrey S Thompson in this book. Birney and I had several passings back and forth about this subject of being called a clown in the book.

  4. Hunter/Humphrey insulted all the MC members when he wrote his magazine article and titled it “Motorcycle Clubs: Losers and Outsiders”. I’m sure he had no problem calling Preetam a clown on top of that.

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