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Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  33,556 Ratings  ·  1,207 Reviews
Gonzo journalist and literary roustabout Hunter S. Thompson flies with the angels Hell s Angels, that is in this short work of nonfiction.
California, Labor Day weekend . . . early, with ocean fog still in the streets, outlaw motorcyclists wearing chains, shades and greasy Levis roll out from damp garages, all-night diners and cast-off one-night pads in Frisco, Hollywood,
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Hardcover, 265 pages
Published December 7th 1999 by Modern Library (first published 1966)
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Petra Eggs
I'd just read Jay Dobyn's extremely exciting and fully-involved
No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels. Dobyn was an undercover cop whose total immersion in Angels' culture led to him substituting his real life for what was really a job. Because it was so involved, it took me a while to get into Hunter Thompson's cool, cynical, totally-detached own year-long involvement with the Angels, whose beer, drugs and addiction to speed he was happy to share, but
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Kinga
Oct 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hunter S. Thompson is the writer you want to read if you want to pull all those cool guys. They all love him, it seems, so just make a trip to some hipster café, open one if his books and wait to score.

I didn’t go for the obvious “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” but instead I read his debut, a non-fiction account of his time spent the Hell’s Angels, a motorcycle gang. It was also the book my book club was reading, so I didn’t have that much of a choice.

Even growing up in the 80s and 90s in Polan
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Jonathan Ashleigh
I felt this was just too long. I don't want to read a 300 page magazine article that doesn't have a cohesive story.
James
Apr 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hunter S. Thompson’s first book, Hell’s Angels is not nearly as “gonzo” or as good as his later writings and not nearly as fresh and fascinating as, say, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Hell’s Angels is a far more straightforward piece of journalism than HST’s later work but it is still an interesting read some 45 years on (certainly no small feat).

For one, it is cursorily interesting in how Hell’s Angels has quickly become outdated with references like, “Hell, eight dollars was a case of beer and
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Brandon
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just read this for perhaps the fifth time. From this book up to about 1978 Hunter was at his peak and every book he wrote in that period is writing of the highest order. The guy was a major American prose stylist. Those of you who may scoff at this assertion will one day realize that I'm right. Hunter doesn't get nearly enough credit for being the very intelligent guy he was, and that intelligence is very visible in this book, written before the character of Hunter Thompson was developed enoug ...more
Alex
You ever read a book where you can tell it was a magazine article padded out to book length? Here's one. Repetitive, circular and mostly boring, this is in no way worth reading.

I had a little fun with Thompson's light jabs at Kesey - and having just read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, I found the part where the two stories overlap very interesting - and he's sortof got a theme in there about society at the edge of society and masculinity and whatever (like all motorcycle riders, Thompson had s
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Kristina King
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both Hunter S. Thompson and the Hell's Angels bring preconceived notions to mind:
Thompson was a crazy sonofabitch. He was a nutbag druggie who liked to blow things up.
The Hell's Angel's are crazy motherfuckers. Remember Altamont? They killed like 500 people while providing concert security for the Rolling Stones.

Both of these notions have some basis in reality. Thompson liked drugs and blowing things up. The Hell's Angels did provide security at Altamont, where one person was killed by an Angel
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David Sarkies
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Gonzo Journalism and Criticism of Modern Society
Recommended to David by: Jason Hayes
Shelves: sociology
Drinking with the bikies
21 April 2012

I had been meaning to read this book for quite a while; ever since a friend of mine mentioned it to me years ago. Penguin then decided to release a number of books in a new mass market format, similar to their original releases back in the early days of the company. The books that they released in this new format were inexpensive and were collected from various authors throughout history. I actually appreciated this because they selected a lot of lesser know
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Kate
Sep 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Trigger Warning: violence, rape, etc.

Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels purports to be an inside look at the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, but in the end it's little more than Thompson striking poses as an "insider" and issuing apologias for everything the Angels have done or are alleged to have done. For example, he frequently refers to them as rapists (and to their penchant for rape), but when it comes to specific incidents, he becomes a rape apologist, resorting to tactics ranging from the r
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Louise
Over 30 years ago I read excerpts of this book. In reading the whole piece now, I see that the work not only holds up over time but also that the full work is more impressive than the parts selected by national magazines. This portrait of the Hell’s Angels has all the info you would find in a dry academic sociological study but Thompson’s prose, personal experiences and reactions would never appear in an academic work, and these contribute greatly to the character of the work.

Thompson has a curi
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Frankie
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: famous-people, usa
LOVED
Even though it must be taken with a pinch of salt
Jason
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
This was an interesting book, it feels like he couldn't decide on what type of book he wanted to write. At times it is a piece of journalism, trying to uncover the truth of the Hell's Angels from the myth created by the news media. We know they are prone to exaggerating/making up stuff, but it is really surprising just how much bullshit they got away with writing about the Angels. The book also seems to be a nature documentary too, describing angels as if they were animals.

Hunter S. Thompson spe
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Andy
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still the best book about bikers ever written - and completely unromanticized, too. Their lifestyle is shown in all its greasy and grimy glory. And Hunter took a bad stomping at the end of the book by some vicious Angels. Written over forty years ago and still rawer than a lot of shit out there!
Cbj
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***SPOILERS ALERT***

Hell’s Angel’s is an account of the exaggerated myths, the terrible truths, the origins, motivations and the ethos of the motorcycle gang that terrorized American cities and small towns in the 1960s.

A substantial portion of the book is dedicated to disproving the myths about the Angel’s which were created by the paranoid American media. Thompson investigates negative news reports about the Angels and shows how most of them were biased and hollow. But he also harbors no illus
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Pete daPixie
I liked this, but did I really like it? Three stars or four? Finally I decided on three. 'Hell's Angels' was a book I think I may have read many decades back but I wasn't sure about that either. Thompson's reportage struck chords with me and I had music in my head on many occasions while reading this book. From late sixties through to mid eighties, two wheels were my mode of transport. In that time I should have been killed on at least a few occasions. Me and Kev had many a midnight thrash, raci ...more
Nick
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Review

Hell's Angels is pretty typical Hunter S. Thompson in that it is of inconsistent quality, a mixture with some passages of stellar psychotropic brilliance and others of filler and rushed garbage copy. 'Angels' is not one of Hunter's more messed-up books -- most of it is almost smoothly disjointed, with surprisingly long sections of fairly standard journalistic prose. What the reader of 'Hell's Angels' will find is an often slow, rambling and sometimes boring, but very detailed and illuminat
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Kelly B
I love Hunter S., and granted, this is his first book, and I love books written about this time, and there's great insight and observations and great writing and all, but I got halfway through this book more than once and (granted again, this was during my A.D.D. phase where I couldn't finish any book, I usually had 4-6 books going at the same time and never finished any of them) didn't reach the end. Well I finally picked it up again and read it from beginning to end, without reading a bunch of ...more
John
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Everyone an outlaw, until it time to do outlaw shit."

I picked this up because THE NATION recommended that if I, a pasty suburban leftie liberal, wanted to understand the "forgotten man" Trump voter, I should read this. I find out near the the end, that the goddamn NATION magazine paid the tab on HST's drink account to dictate this into a handheld tape recorder. Shady.

But the suggestion is not "that" wrong. As with everything HST wrote, there is a near perfect, poetic epiphany right near the en
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Jake
Jan 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, sociology
Who among us, in some secret moments, doesn't want to see society burnt to the ground? What separates us from the Hell's Angels, according to Hunter S. Thompson, is that most of the time we've got other options- where the average outlaw biker has none:
Two dozen gleaming, stripped-down Harleys filled the parking lot of the bar called the El Adobe. The angels were shouting, laughing and drinking beer- paying no attention to two teenaged boys who stood on the fringe of the crowd, looking scared. Fi
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illiterate Inconsiderate
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I recently read Ancient Gonzo Wisdom, which is a collection of all of the interviews HST ever gave, going all the way back to when he was barely a writer at all. Most of the early pages of AGW are devoted to his new book Hell’s Angels, and the trouble he got into toward the end of it. Long story kinda short: Hunter was a broke magazine writer that wrote an article about the Hell’s Angels. Some publisher wanted him to write a book about them and gave him some money to do it. This was in the mid-1 ...more
Ensiform
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book that cemented Thompson’s reputation as the premier journalist of the crazed, and deservedly so. Thompson rode and hung with the Angels for a couple of years, and he presents them, at the height of their notoriety, through his own cynical, paranoiac freak prism. So we see the Angels as bearded, drooling, vicious outlaws ready to rape or stomp anything and anyone who crosses their path, but we also see them as tired old goons, knowing full well that they’re losers, and just trying to hang ...more
Ismael Galvan
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rape, lead pipe to the teeth, gang bangs, LSD, motorcycle outlaws roaming across California. Nobody is better qualified, or crazy enough, to live and ride with the Hell's Angels for two years. The result of Hunter's "strange and terrible saga" was his book Hell's Angels and a savage beating stopped just short of having his head caved in with a massive rock. Luckily, he was not brained.

The book reads like a massive magazine article, spattered with person experiences, and occasionally graced with
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Erik Graff
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thompson fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
I first saw this book after reading Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in a little bookstore on the street paralleling the east side of the Red Line here in East Rogers Park, Chicago. It was this edition. It wasn't cheap. I didn't buy it--a regret ever since. Finally, years later, after reading some more of Thompson's earlier work, I did get around to the thing and thoroughly enjoyed it--not just for the author's luridly over-the-top writing style, but also for the angle it threw ...more
Stephanie
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Definitely didn't enjoy this as much as Fear and Loathing, but it was still a really good read. I love his writing style. Although he seems to make it hard to discern between fact from fiction, but he still has a way of presenting you all the facts that's often humorous and also bizarre. I also really enjoyed reading about the Hell's Angels in general. He was able to leave nothing out and described them as the raw and grimy people they were and I'm assuming still are.
Raegan Butcher
Apr 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably Thompson's best written book aside from Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.
Chris
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, culture
So, what else to follow classic fantasy with but gritty 20th century gonzo journalism? It all hangs together so perfectly....

Much has been made about Hunter S. Thompson's effect on American culture and journalism. After his death, there were countless portraits painted of him, some calling him a brilliant innovator of the written word, others calling him an egotistical madman who cared more about himself than the story.

All I have to say is that anyone who actively pursues the company of men such
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Jason P

*coughs*

I'm going to make this brief.

In my younger days I was obsessed with Hunter S. Thompson. I know where I was when he died - what I was doing. He was a big influence in my life, and his writing kept me going when life sucked. I have read most of his novels; Generation of Swine, The Rum Diary, Hey Rube, Proud Highway, and Songs of the Doomed to name a few. Each and everyone was so unique and his voice would jump off the page and slap you, he would sic his doberman on you, and to finish you o
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Abigail
What a wild ride! I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I decided to read it because I love Hunter S. Thompson, whom I consider one of my favorite writers. But this is based solely on only reading ONE of his books, probably the most famous book of his Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I decided I wanted to read more of his work and realized this was Hunter's very first book. So many things I liked about it, but on a personal level, I live in the Bay Area of Northern California. I was born in Oakland, an ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
He who makes a beast of himself doesn't have to feel the pain of being a man. -Quote from Samuel Johnson found in the book.

I read Thompson when I was younger and could afford to indulge more dissipative appetites. I read fear and loathing in Las Vegas and on the campaign trail 72 required reading for a neo-hippie of the 80s. Never got around to Hell's Angels until this week after reading an article in the nation magazine claiming Hunter S. Thompson saw Trumpism coming in his expose of the Hell'
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Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author, famous for his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become the central figures of their stories. He is also known for his promotion and use of psychedelics and other mind-altering substanc ...more
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