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Hella Nation: Looking for Happy Meals in Kandahar, Rocking the Side Pipe, Wingnut's War Against the Gap, and Other Adventures with the Totally Lost Tribesof America

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  822 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Read Evan Wright's posts on the Penguin Blog.
The "New York Times" bestselling author of "Generation Kill" immerses himself in even more cultures on the edge.
Evan Wright's affinity for outsiders has inspired this deeply personal journey through what he calls "the lost tribes of America." A collection of previously published pieces, "Hella Nation" delivers provocative ac
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Berkley Books (first published 2009)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  822 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Apr 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from a goodreads raffle. I am an occasional reader of Rolling Stone and a frequent reader of Vanity Fair, so some of Wright's pieces were familiar to me. The introduction to the previously published pieces is what readers will close the book wanting more of--Wright's personal reflections and honest examination of his experiences.

Since most of my reading is academic, spiced only by hoity toity academic self referential attempts at humor and battened dow
I'm jealous of the journalistic niche Evan Wright has carved out for himself. Over a 10-year span at different publications including Hustler and Rolling Stone, he manages to keep getting assigned feature stories on people who have achieved infamy in some way. I know from experience how uncomfortable it can be to interview a murderer... This guy interviews more than one. There are also chapters on porn, taxi-dance halls, Motley Crue, soldiers in Afghanistan, professional skateboarders, anarchist ...more
I received a copy of this through GoodReads First Reads program. Definately has an interesting title. The book is basically 12 separate stories, all of which the book states were previously published in slightly different formats in magazines such as Rolling Stone, Hustler, LA weekly, Vanity Fair, and Men's Journal. The stories were all interesting, often covering topics I had previously heard about in the news (such as the Aryan Nation, the WTO riots in Seattle, and the dogs that killed the wom ...more
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Evan Wright Fans, People Fascinated by Outcasts
This book is a collection of some of Evan Wright's journalism work. This book reprints (in slightly longer form) some stories he did for Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and other magazines. The stories in this book (in order that they occur):

+ Not Much War, but plenty of Hell: Wright reports embedded at a marine fire base in Afghanistan.
+ Piss Drunk: The story of Jim Greco, defacto figurehead of the Piss Drunx skateboarding crew.
+ Dance with a Stranger: The history and present of taxi dance halls.
+ W
May 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic
Worst cover, possibly, of any book I've read. The only cover I have tried to hide while reading in public. A cover that says "This book is about how to Do the Dew!"

The essays are Jon Ronson and Neil Strauss-esque - magazine articles from 2000-2004, and one from 2007, published in 2009, probably because Evan Wright's book Generation Kill was selling well. And it's a good, if a bit outdated feeling, collection. The essays start out very objective reporting on some of the people living on the fring
Apr 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evan Wright is a former writer for Hustler and, later, Rolling Stone. This is a collection of articles/ essays that he wrote for those publications. The collection is loosely chosen around the concept of revealing different subcultures and realities in the United States that are outside of the mainstream: white supremicists; porn stars; anarchists; an insane, alcoholic Hollywood-agent-turned-Conservative-war-pundit; and others. The glimpse into these realities is interesting, and Wright seems to ...more
Real Women
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am learning that my anxiety about having anxiety is not that uncommon. I feel an affinity to this writer, not sure yet about the book with the terrifying cover.... I loved Generation Kill (book more than HBO series, although I liked the series so much, too). Remember, I have developed as a woman by turning my back on chick flicks and women's magazines. I read Men's Journal and War Reporting (by women and men), history. I read freely and so I want to read Hella Nation without wishing there was ...more
Little Miss Esoteric
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I like this journalist's style. He appears to be able to draw the subject out without obvious effort, and gives them enough rope to either hang themselves, or present a hidden, redeeming side. After finishing this collection of articles, I'm left with a strong impression of our willingness to believe anything, no matter how pathetically stupid the idea, so long as it justifies our actions.

Olav Nilsen
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ryan Williams
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best reads I've had in quite some time. There are other living US journalists worthy of an intelligent reader's attention - John McPhee, Eric Schlosser, David Remnick - but none as funny or as ferociously engaging as Evan Wright.

His work has picked up some lazy comparisons to that of Hunter S. Thompson - not always due to the Rolling Stone connection - but the comparison misleads. However wacky, deluded or bizarre his subjects (porn starlets, eco-terrorists, neo-Nazi's), the tale rema
The basic message of this book is that Americans are crazy. Certainly those that Wright talked to. He seems to have a knack for being a good listener. In this collection of essays, he interviews neo-nazis, various criminals, porn stars, and the just plain odd. All are presented in their own words, with apparent neutrality. Naturally this makes practically all of them seem mad.

I enjoyed this book, which reminded me strongly of Chuck Palahniuk's 'Non-Fiction' and 'Stranger Than Fiction'. Like bot
Colin N.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From Evan Wright, author of "Generation Kill," comes this collection of reporting, mostly written for Rolling Stone and other magazines, that focuses on the various underclasses and outsiders of American society. The reporting is uniformly excellent and the articles really fascinating. We enter the world of anarchists, neo-nazis, skaters, taxi dancers, con artists, and porn stars (among others). The people profiled here are often sad, pathetic, sometimes terrible, bizarre and an integral part of ...more
Erik Osburn
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hella Nation by Evan Wright is one of my favorite books, period. Wright interviews extreme, uniquely American characters including anarchists, porn stars, and combat troops in the Middle East. His reportage brings important aspects of American life into focus. Wright treats these subjects with a jurist's sense of balance and proportion. The importance Wright places on grounding his reporting from the fringe in "observable details," and his predilection to reject descriptions of the world too con ...more
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly sure what to make of this book. While it does have a lot of interesting characters and potential, it comes across as very fragmented and lacking in purpose.

The one redeeming quality of this book is Evan Wright's talent as a writer that keeps you wanting to read more and makes you assume that some sort of conclusion is on it's way; there aren't any. It's more like a collection of ramblings, the sort of tales you'd hear in a bar after half a dozen beers.

I won't discredit Evan Wright f
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This dark, twisted book by Evan Wright made for irresistable and gleefully perverse reading. Wright is an award winning journalist for "Hustler," "Rolling Stone," and other notable mags. He covers a wide swath from grunts in Afganistan on the hunt for terrorists and sexual release, skateboarders living lives of excess and short-lived glory, taxi-dancers in the Los Angeles inhabitating the twilight world of paid companionship, and of a convict raising viscious canines with the help of some truly ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essentially a collection of magazine articles by the guy most famous for having written Generation Kill. I read a good half of these in Rolling Stone when I was in college, including the story that became Generation Kill, plus a version of his famous story on nutjob Hollywood agent ternt right wing documentary filmmaker Pat Dollard, but I was more than happy to revisit them. They're hilarious and enlightening—even the ones on things that happened upwards of 20 years ago now. All of them seem to ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting selection of essays originally found in truncated form within other publications.
I enjoyed the interviews with a range of offbeat subjects...some whom you wouldn't want to give house space.
I shall look for more collections by this author.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good read especially if you remember when his topics were current. It's neat that Mr. Wright was able to be involved with so many different types of people and stories.... professionally!
Also cool how some of the trends described have not changed that much.
Adam Kanter
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting collection of writings about various subcultures, enjoyed this.
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this without having any idea what it would be about. Thankfully I really liked it. Each essay was a glimpse into parts of America I hadn't previously known anything about. This kind of stuff makes for great conversation starters and it also can be very eye-opening. Many of the essays covered complete scumbags (like Pat Dollard) who had gotten rich and/or famous using different cons, scams and selling hatred. It was always fascinating that these people never ended up in jail, but were ...more
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve yet to pick up his first critically acclaimed work of investigative prose, Generation Kill, but I do count Evan Wright as one of the bright spots in current American journalistic non-fiction. In this, his second book, he turns his eyes and pen to just over a dozen American cultural outliers who live on the fringe mentally and, just as often, physically.

He begins Hella Nation with a detailed look into the daily life of the Fifth Platoon Delta Company and their world-within-another-world kno
Apr 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting stories from the fractured and sometimes seedy underbelly of Americana, sort of like a true-life "Knockemstiff" by Donald Ray Pollack.

Probably what I found most fascinating though about this collection of stories was the introduction by author, Evan Wright. In it, he comes clean about his own semi-misfit status in the culture as a whole regarding himself as an outsider of sorts, not something that came across at all in his book Generation Kill, probably because he was so able to
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't the most elegantly written prose or intellectually demanding collection of stories I've read recently (the profound Runaway by Alice Munro offers that, if that's what you're looking for, and you SHOULD read that too because it's fantastic), but it is purely enjoyable nevertheless.

This book comprises a collection of elongated news articles (some previously published, but altered and re-published here, which makes me wonder if this was a "capitalize on the financial success of Generati
Camille Broadway
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have given this book to several people, including some of my journalism students, and made "Piss Drunk" required reading in a course so I must really like this book?!? Yet every time I sit down to review it I find I struggle to write a coherent evaluation. I think that part of it is I find Wright more appealing than some of his work in this book. I loved the forward (one of my all-time favorite forwards), the story on the taxi dancers ("Dance with a Stranger"), and Wright's account of his days ...more
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's easy to see why most people reach for the gonzo journalist label when describing Wright; he gets unbelievably close to his unusual and sometimes unbalanced subjects. In a book like this, some articles will always grab you more than others. Nearly all of them are at least diverting. Below I'll focus on those I think are the best:

1. Wright's preface is fantastic. In it, we see how a bright and disturbed man eventually finds his calling. It's an important reminder about how the best and most i
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In this collection of essays, Evan Wright introduces us to skaters, soldiers, Earth Liberation Frontsmen, porn stars, neo-nazis, and small-time drug dealers (to name a few). It is an interesting collection and I certainly appreciate Wright's purpose in Hella Nation: to make us, for even a few minutes open ourselves up to those we normally write off as being too crazy, too radical, too drunk, or too creepy. As an almost-travelogue, it is entertaining, fascinating, and at times gruesome. But perha ...more
This is a collection of essays that have been previously published in different (shorter) forms. The thread connecting all of the essays is that Wright embeds himself into a variety of fringe groups and offers an insider's perspective of people who are largely ignored or abhorred by mainstream society. The book was also educational, as I had never heard of taxi dance halls before. All of the essays were interesting, but some stood out above and beyond the others.

I particularly enjoyed Wright's
Steven Kaminski
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Generation Kill on HBO was a great series. Evan Wright's book here gets into a collection of adventures with tribes on the fringe. The funniest thing they all have in common is that they ALL want to be heard. They all want people to understand who they are...

- He hangs out with soldiers in Afghanistan who end up between being bored to death & on the edge as they go from day to day mixed with humor.

- He spends time in 'taxi dancer' clubs...think Tina Turner's private dancer and talks to the g
I won this book from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I found this book to be a good read, but it did not live up to the standards I was expecting. Evan Wright takes you deep into the lives of all of the different and truly interesting "sub-cultures" of his subjects, and his casual way of writing makes you feel as if you are in a personally conversation with the author. However, I felt as though I was left wanting more at the end of each chapter/story. I was expecting a more encompassing view in
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
The realism of HBO's "Generation Kill" made it often difficult to
watch, but I was captivated by its perspective on the lives of our
soldiers and eager to read more from Evan Wright, whose reporting was
the basis for the series. "Hella Nation" collects a decade's worth of
Wright's articles from publications like Hustler, Vanity Fair, and
Rolling Stone -- composed in a similar embedded-journalist style. No
matter how bizarre the subjects of his inquiry, all are rendered
accessible and entertainin
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That "author's photo" of me is an illustration done by my friend Hawk Krall, an awesome artist from Philly.

I had an odd path to writing which I describe in the first chapter of Hella Nation.

For the most part, my biography is contained in the books and articles I publish.