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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Isn't Your Typical Thompson
Having read Hell's Angels, A Strange and Terrible saga at least eight times starting in 1968, I never cease to be amazed at the criticisms leveled against it in the ensuing years, the major one being that it's not a Fear and Loathing book. I'm pretty sure it was originally a (very) long article written for The Nation magazine. The Nation ain't Rolling Stone, kids. If you...
Published on July 19 2004 by G. W. Loftis

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3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted more...
...first hand accounts of Dr. Thompson's personal dealings with the Angels. Much of the book is written as an essay on the topic of the Hell's Angels. It includes many facts and quotes of everyone involved, from the Angels themselves, to quotes of police officers and politicians. Included throughout are Hunter's analysis of press coverage of the Angels and how the...
Published on Aug. 12 2003 by B. Convery


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Isn't Your Typical Thompson, July 19 2004
By 
G. W. Loftis "Dr Toast" (Weston, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Paperback)
Having read Hell's Angels, A Strange and Terrible saga at least eight times starting in 1968, I never cease to be amazed at the criticisms leveled against it in the ensuing years, the major one being that it's not a Fear and Loathing book. I'm pretty sure it was originally a (very) long article written for The Nation magazine. The Nation ain't Rolling Stone, kids. If you are coming to this book expecting Hunter's usual blend of fact, fiction, and hallucinations, you will be sorely disappointed. "Gonzo journalist" though he is, the operative part there was journalist. He had, after all, developed a rather strong food habit since birth, and had no desire to kick it. He explores the Angels' mystique by letting them provide the history, their then current attitudes, and their lives as outlaws outside the system. He then blends research and his observations gleaned from riding with them for the better part of a year into the mix, producing a riveting book.
Since the recent death of Marlon Brando, his movie The Wild One has gained a new audience; it is in fact based on an incident Hunter chronicles in this book, the Rape of Hollister. Oddly, nothing remotely similar to the movie happened there, and some other legendary "motorcycle riots" such as the one at Laconia, New Hampshire, weren't initially riots at all, and certainly didn't involve the Angels, though the media portrayed these events as the brink of Armageddon and gave middle America yet another "dangerous group running wild in their midst," something else to freak over in addition to Communists hiding under every rock.
The Angels became, over time, what people expected them to be. Hunter recognized this transformational quality in his own profession: if other reporters, from respected national magazines, could make up stories or at least embellish them enough to freak people out, he could do it better! What you will find in Hell's Angels is great reporting, an unflinching look at real wildness and personal risk, and the genesis of what would become Hunter's trademark style.
If for no other reason, fans of Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey, or the "Beats" (including the real "Dean Moriarty" from On the Road, still alive at the time, still driving, and hanging out with the Pranksters) should read this book for the legendary Acid Test at Kesey's place at La Honda when Hunter and the Angels showed up (by invitation, as Kesey was burning to meet them). In a singularly rare occurrence, we find two journalists just before they became instant icons writing about the same private party, rather than, say an inauguration, or awards ceremony, or some other public spectacle; the "public" was definitely not invited to La Honda. Compare Hunter's account of that weekend with the one that appears in the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test; you might just be surprised by who is the more "legitimate" writer.
I obviously love this book and highly recommend it, but again, it isn't FEAR and LOATHING WITH THE HELL'S ANGELS; it's far too serious a situation for that, as you will discover upon reading it. (And if that idea somehow still escapes you, watch Gimme Shelter, the great Maysles brothers' documentary of the Stones free concert at Altamont; if THAT doesn't do it, go down to your local biker bar and kick over a few choppers; you'll deserve what you get.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hells Angels Review, May 24 2009
By 
Bruce Martin (Nova Scotia, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Paperback)
I have read and re-read this book since the late '60s and have been greatly influenced by it. While the book is ostensibly about the Hells Angels, in reality it is a stinging condemnation of American society of the time. It skewers the complacity, small-mindedness and uniformity that was prevalent then and may be even worse now. It also offers interesting snapshots of developing counter-cultural trends and personalities, movements that now seem like dead-ends.

Hunter S. Thompson uses the Hells Angels to personify a group that had been left behind by the American dream and knew it. By extension, they represent all the losers and misfits that could not find a place in the greater or "Great" society of the time. During the period in which the book was written, the Angels had not yet become the criminal force that they now are. Is it possible that the way they were marginalized contributed to their increasing viciousness and lawlessness?

Elements of the author's self-centredness and over-the-top behaviour are revealed in the book but there is nothing of the egomania and self-destructiveness of his later works. He had not yet adopted, in print at least, the kind of persona that would ultimately lead to his death by suicide.

Read it and weep.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A slice of history in a special style., May 18 2014
By 
Len the Sound Guy (Montreal) - See all my reviews
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This is a great story, and this is the second time I've bought this book, the first one was stolen by a friend, it's that good! Thompson's story telling is legendary, only he writes in this style. He not only writes the Hell's Angels story, he lives it. The action never slows, the story never becomes dull. Most things here take place in the 60s and 70s, and as I was involved with bikers during those years, I can attest to the validity of the narration! Times were different then, and you can read it here. Angels today are more apt to drive luxury sports cars, being seen on a bike would be just too dangerous! Read this book to be transported back to a time when 'bikers' meant Harleys and beer!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for any HST fan, Feb. 6 2014
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This review is from: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Paperback)
This book was a very good read written in true HST fashion I personally don't think there's a book by HST I wouldn't enjoy
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5.0 out of 5 stars An honest and unique book, Dec 12 2010
By 
Wayne Kelley (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Paperback)
Hells Angels is an excellent read. It provides a solid foundation with respect to the history and beginnings of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. Thompson is extremely honest and forthcoming in this book as he talks about the Hells Angels MC and his experiences with them after spending over a year in their despicable company.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, March 22 2008
By 
Benjamin Anderson (Fredericton, NB CAN) - See all my reviews
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While not as funny or well written as "Fear and Loathing", "Hell's Angels" is still a fantastic book. The story picks up drastically when Thompson introduces himself into the narrative, and some of the scenes appear to be straight of of "fear". The cameo by Ginsberg was awesome, too. Really good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars not as good as Fear but still very good, Dec 2 2007
Not as over the top or as wildly entertaining as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but still very well written and highly entertaining. You don't get bland prose from the Doctor, and does it get any better than phrases such as "young blondes with lobotomy eyes"? This book is about 40 years old, and the reader certainly gets a feel for the 1960s, but I wouldn't at all call it, or Fear and Loathing, dated. The book is anecdotally driven, there are a lot of highly amusing stories with the bikers, and the bikers don't come across to me as completely unlikeable. If you like Fear and Loathing, you'll probably like this book too, although it's not as wacky and wild. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hell-of-a good time, March 10 2006
By 
Beth D. (N.S. Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Paperback)
There are few books that I recommend to people. Off-beat books—bizarre or books that I know won’t make the mainstream: Palahniuk’s FIGHT CLUB was/is one such book (along with all his works, basically, and also J. T. McCrae’s KATZENJAMMER with its on-edge humor and ribald raciness.) But Hunter was one hell of a writer. I don't know how a Stoner, Tweaker, Loadie could write like this. This book broke his friendships with H.A. but descibes them before they incorporated into organized crime. H.A. went big time and so did Hunter and this was both of them in their earlier years. HELL’S ANGELS is a must for Hunter fans, along with ANY of his other books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hog Wild, April 21 2004
By 
cortright Mcmeel (baltimore, md United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Paperback)
Roll up your sleeves boys and girls, if you read Hell's Angels the Doctor is going to inject you with a dosage of Outlaw Reality and Hog Rage as it were. The Hell's Angels are the last vestiges of the American Outlaw, 1%'s they're called, outside the outside, committed to a life of Freedom, punctuated by violence, booze, barbituates, indiscriminate sex and of course cruising the Amercian Wastelands on their Great Metallic Steeds, stripped down Harley Davidson's known affectionately as Hogs. Hunter S. is in his own right a one percenter. This book shows the Dr. of Gonzo's journalistic zeal, as he braves the world of the Angels, driving not a Hog as he should but a Dark Shadow. This is only too perfect as Hunter is the dark specter following the dastardly deeds of these bastard bikers. This book displays Hunter's ballsy journalism, as well as allowing him to focus on a central theme that would go on to pervade his other works: the outlaw and his importance to American society, a society that is dredged to the hilt with phonies, gutless wonders, souless greedmongers, hypocrites, cowards, politicians and other scum, capitalisitc, bureacratic, pig-like and otherwise. Hell's Angels is the journalistic calm that precedes the storm of hallucinagenic brilliance that was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. So one way or the other let the Doctor of Gonzo vaccinate your mind from the mindless surge that makes up the money grubbing, TV watching majority of this Great Country of Ours. (...)
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3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted more..., Aug. 12 2003
By 
B. Convery (US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (Paperback)
...first hand accounts of Dr. Thompson's personal dealings with the Angels. Much of the book is written as an essay on the topic of the Hell's Angels. It includes many facts and quotes of everyone involved, from the Angels themselves, to quotes of police officers and politicians. Included throughout are Hunter's analysis of press coverage of the Angels and how the press nearly glorifies criminals. Too much facts. When I bought the book, I was hoping to learn of the Angel's reputation not by reading someone's studies (because anyone could do research), but by living it through the author's eyes. Hunter makes it clear that he studied/mingled with the Hell's Angels for about a year. Where are all the crazy stories? There were a couple personal accounts sprinkled here and there, but there he also a lot of general statements in the piece without giving me the experience I was hoping for.
For example, he'd say something to the effect of... and no one wanted these modern day Huns coming into their town, raping, pillaging, and chain-whipping anyone in their path. Did the Angels actually do these sorts of things? Did they go through towns ravaging and raping everything in site? After reading "Hell's Angels" I still can't answer these and similar questions.
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Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga
Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson (Paperback - Sept. 29 1996)
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