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.