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Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels…

by Sonny Barger

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
351957,852 (3.38)1
Everything the public thinks it knows about the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) comes from law enforcement, Hollywood B-movies, tabloid exposes, or exaggerated "I was there" testimonials. Never before has the story of this uniquely American subculture and the wild, dangerous life of quintessential Angel Ralph "Sonny" Barger been chronicled with such hard-hitting honesty and candor--straight from the source. Finally, the Angels' side of the story has been laid out by one of their own. Hell's Angel provides a fascinating all-access pass to the secret world of the notorious HAMC, recounting the birth of the original Oakland Hell's Angels and the four turbulent, tumultuous decades that followed. It features a cast of colorful fellow "one-percenters" like Terry the Tramp, Charlie Magoo, and all those who rode alongside Barger throughout the years. Hell's Angel also chronicles the way the HAMC revolutionized the look of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and built what has become a worldwide bike-riding fraternity, a beacon for freedom seekers the world over. In his own words, Barger recounts his relentless battles against government efforts to destroy the HAMC, explains what happened in the standoff between the Hell's Angels and the 1960s antiwar elite, and tells the real story behind the infamous 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Raceway, an epochal moment that came to symbolize the end of the sixties. This epic saga provides insight into the personal life of a charismatic visionary who embodies values uniquely American: personal liberty on the open highway, beating the odds, staying on top, and never backing down. Dozens of photos, including many from private collections--as well as images shot by noted photographers--provide added dimensions to this extraordinary tale. Barger's stories highlight the personal triumphs as well as the rough-and-tumble tragedies of his life: constant battles with law enforcement, incarceration, overcoming throat cancer, love and marriage, and continuing to live the biker life--still crazy after all these years. And Hell's Angel doesn't gloss over heated topics such as violence, drugs, and the strong women who always stood behind Barger and the club. Never simply a story about motorcycles, colorful characters, and high-speed thrills, Hell's Angel is the ultimate outlaw's tale of loyalty and betrayal, subcultures and brotherhood, and the real price of freedom.      … (more)
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English (7)  Dutch (2)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
A fascinating look inside the world of Sonny Barger and his bike club, "The Hell's Angels". It's predictably apologetic, Sonny gives us reasons for it all. But, I'm not so sure I disagree with his reasoning.

The funniest moment in the book is when he said of "Harley Davidson", "we should have gone with Honda". Hell's Angels on Honda's? Now that is a strange picture. ( )
  wickenden | Mar 8, 2021 |
Sonny's Story

An enjoyable read and a fascinating story told by a fascinating man. Love him or hate him, he is an American icon. ( )
  Feralreader | Nov 25, 2017 |
When I first started the book, I didn't think I was going to be able to finish it, too much braggadocio for me. However, it turned out to be a fairly pleasant read. I think the thing I found most interesting was how the gang was structured, with meetings, rules, and having to receive a transfer letter to leave one chapter and join another. ( )
  bjkelley | Oct 2, 2016 |
Interesting and enjoyable read. One I feel I can relate to on some level. Only good for a target audience though (People interested in biker gangs). This book reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. "When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will have freedom"!! ( )
  yahscott | Mar 7, 2016 |
The book is basically a series of vignettes narrated by Sonny Barger, the President and one of the founding members of the Hell’s Angels Oakland Chapter. From a strictly historical viewpoint, this is a good overview into how the MC’s developed from returned vets in World War II up to today.

I did not read the electronic version of the book and so had the benefit of having access to all the pictures. These are a great addition to the read as many are photographs of the individuals Barger is telling stories about. There are also some great pictures of the bikes – particularly choppers from the late 60’s and 70’s.

Let’s say that if you are looking for hardcore murder, mayhem and drug dealing a la “Sons of Anarchy” you may be barking up the wrong tree. There are inferences and allusions to that life but the dirty deeds are skirted. I guess Sonny Barger felt that he had done enough time and smartly did not incriminate himself in the book.

That being said, the stories are fun. Everything from Sturgis to Altamont, from the summer of love in Frisco to the heydays in Oakland are covered. One thing about the MC life becomes obvious by the end of the book – Sonny Barger is lucky to be alive because most of the members he writes about died. Many died in motorcycle accidents, some from drug overdoses and some in prison murders.

Sonny Barger doesn’t glorify it too much but the story is shined and polished and rated PG so there is still some mystique for those looking for that aspect of the life. Rivalries, old ladies, fights, bikes and bikes and more bikes make up a short, light and entertaining read. ( )
  ozzieslim | Sep 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sonny Bargerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Zimmerman, Keithsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zimmerman, Kentsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Everything the public thinks it knows about the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) comes from law enforcement, Hollywood B-movies, tabloid exposes, or exaggerated "I was there" testimonials. Never before has the story of this uniquely American subculture and the wild, dangerous life of quintessential Angel Ralph "Sonny" Barger been chronicled with such hard-hitting honesty and candor--straight from the source. Finally, the Angels' side of the story has been laid out by one of their own. Hell's Angel provides a fascinating all-access pass to the secret world of the notorious HAMC, recounting the birth of the original Oakland Hell's Angels and the four turbulent, tumultuous decades that followed. It features a cast of colorful fellow "one-percenters" like Terry the Tramp, Charlie Magoo, and all those who rode alongside Barger throughout the years. Hell's Angel also chronicles the way the HAMC revolutionized the look of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and built what has become a worldwide bike-riding fraternity, a beacon for freedom seekers the world over. In his own words, Barger recounts his relentless battles against government efforts to destroy the HAMC, explains what happened in the standoff between the Hell's Angels and the 1960s antiwar elite, and tells the real story behind the infamous 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Raceway, an epochal moment that came to symbolize the end of the sixties. This epic saga provides insight into the personal life of a charismatic visionary who embodies values uniquely American: personal liberty on the open highway, beating the odds, staying on top, and never backing down. Dozens of photos, including many from private collections--as well as images shot by noted photographers--provide added dimensions to this extraordinary tale. Barger's stories highlight the personal triumphs as well as the rough-and-tumble tragedies of his life: constant battles with law enforcement, incarceration, overcoming throat cancer, love and marriage, and continuing to live the biker life--still crazy after all these years. And Hell's Angel doesn't gloss over heated topics such as violence, drugs, and the strong women who always stood behind Barger and the club. Never simply a story about motorcycles, colorful characters, and high-speed thrills, Hell's Angel is the ultimate outlaw's tale of loyalty and betrayal, subcultures and brotherhood, and the real price of freedom.      

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