Hell's Angels

Hell's Angels

A Strange and Terrible Saga

Book - 1996
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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, Berdoo and East Oakland, heading for the Monterey peninsula, north of Big Sur. . . The Menace is loose again."

Thus begins Hunter S. Thompson's vivid account of his experiences with California's most notorious motorcycle gang, the Hell's Angels. In the mid-1960s, Thompson spent almost two years living with the controversial Angels, cycling up and down the coast, reveling in the anarchic spirit of their clan, and, as befits their name, raising hell. His book successfully captures a singular moment in American history, when the biker lifestyle was first defined, and when such countercultural movements were electrifying and horrifying America. Thompson, the creator of Gonzo journalism, writes with his usual bravado, energy, and brutal honesty, and with a nuanced and incisive eye; as The New Yorker pointed out, "For all its uninhibited and sardonic humor, Thompson's book is a thoughtful piece of work." As illuminating now as when originally published in 1967, Hell's Angels is a gripping portrait, and the best account we have of the truth behind an American legend.
Publisher: New York :, Ballantine Books,, 1996
Edition: First Ballantine Books trade edition
ISBN: 9780345410085
Branch Call Number: ANF 364.106609 THO
Characteristics: 273 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
danielmacri Mar 21, 2018

This book ignited the legend of Hunter Thompson. He tells it like it is and it's so rereshing, not to mention incredibly interesting to observe America's biggest outlaws of the 1960s. He gets what comes to him at the end, which gave him street cred; a true classic answer page-turner.

May 19, 2017

If you only read one of his(H.S.T.)books,this one should be it.

Feb 26, 2015

Demonstrates clearly what a fine writer HST was. Great tales well told. Along with Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, this provides some terrific insights into the human character with that sense of abandon and humor that Thompson delivered in spades.

Feb 25, 2015

This is the first Hunter S. Thompson book I was able to complete. The others just made me want to tune in, turn on and drop out. Well this one sort of did too, but not in the same way. I appreciate the Angels total lack of give a F&$%, however I don't need the tough guy, outlaw, pirate persona and identity that goes along with their set. I can see how it would appeal to certain types in their 20's seeking identity and clan in a world gone astray. However I guess I just chose to twirl in my 20's instead. I sometimes fantasize still about living a nomadic lifestyle, out on the open road, but I don't need any colors or patches or tribes to make it real or safe. I envision more of an airstream with my wife and Betty by my side. Although I have always been curious about gangs and their culture and this book only piqued my interest more. I think I'll read a few more insider accounts on this run. It looks like I'm changing genres once again

gnarly_authenticity Feb 21, 2015

This piece of Tom Wolfe-style journalism was, in fact, the best thing Thompson ever wrote.

Oct 02, 2012

I first read this as a teenager in the 70's and re-read it to see how it was today. It still holds a certain fascination and gives a good insight to the gang culture from the distance of history and hindsight.

May 02, 2011

Hilarious and bizzarre, definatly entertaining but loses steam in the last section. Still a great read though. B+

Jan 17, 2011

d n f - not very exciding read

Nov 05, 2010

Hunter holds himself back and lets the story tell itself. That's is both good and bad. I am a big fan of his Gonzo-style and must admit I missed it. In "Hell's Angels" his writing style was supplanted by the lifestyle he adopted for a year in order to journalize the "trips" of the notorious California Motorcycle gang. Unless you were previously exposed to some (true) stories of the Hell's Angels, much of this book will be eye-opening for the gang did and didn't do. I hadn't been and only knew the myth perpatrated by the media. Hunter does his best to expose the NY Times, Time Magazine and others for their taget-picking, fear-baiting, if-we-printed-it-it-must-be-real style of reporting and de-myths many of the groups exploits. Hunter focuses his story of two or three "runs" the Angel's take. He captures the anti-social attitudes and behaviors of the gang without judging and relates the booze, pills, sex and thuggery stories without embellishment (or so it seemed to me). Read this book if you've ever wondered what the gang life was like for this group of misfits '60's drop-outs. Read this book if you enjoy HST and his eye for the real story.

Jul 06, 2010

WOW! Another great book by Hunter. I think everyone needs to read this at least once.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
May 19, 2017

steve1958 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

May 17, 2017

sbbrown66 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at VIRL

To Top