Misunderstood folk heroes? Crafty entrepreneurs? Or just a bunch of decadent criminals?
Canadian journalist Yves Lavigne takes you deeper into the world of the modern motorcycle gang than any journalist has dared—or could stand—to go. Not since Hunter Thompson's Hell's Angels: A Strange And Terrible Saga Of The Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs appeared in 1967 has there been such a thorough account.
This book documents the gang's bumpy ride, from its origins as a Stateside club for World War II fighter pilots, to its freewheeling terror tactics of the early sixties, to its absurd flirtation with the hippie scene, to its ultimate search for a legitimate role in the contemporary world of organized crime.
The Angels' old-boy network has become the most dominant and feared of all biking clubs—and they are trading in their Harleys, switchblades, and leather for Jaguars, Uzis, and business suits. The Hell's Angels are now one of the most powerful underground organizations in North America, rivaling even the Mafia.
But the Hell's Angels' new direction has come with no sparing of blood. Territorial wars and retaliatory violence overwhelm club activity as chapters vie for the lucrative profits of drug trafficking and prostitution. Murder within the club has taken its toll on club morale and camaraderie. Chased by fear, some members have traded police protection for testimony against fellow Angels. The image of the long-haired, bearded, tattooed biker astride his Harley is outdated.
This is a bold book, with stories that will amuse you, shock you, sometimes turn your stomach—and leave no doubt as to the origin of the Angels' motto: “Three can keep a secret if two are dead.”
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A reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail here examines the history and status quo of various groups of bikers (Hell's Angels are the best known) currently active in the U.S. and Canada. Lavigne describes--in overtly sensationalistic fashion--the media sensationalism that surrounds (and for a time succored) outlaw bikers, alleging that present-day gangs (Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Pagans, Bandidos) rival, and even surpass, traditional organized crime mobs in terms of revenues, organization and ruthlessness. While certain sections of the book (deep history, inter-gang feuding, an in-depth portrayal of the multiple execution of five Montreal Hell's Angels in 1985) do illuminate a relatively inaccessible subculture, the bulk of the volume is an amalgam of turgid prose, luridly violent anecdote and speculative, hyperbolic hypothesis. An assessment of bikers' attitudes toward women is couched in grossly offensive language, while a litany of security systems and weapons arsenals of gang-chapter clubhouses is merely boring.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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