Hell’s Angel – The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club
by Ralph “Sonny” Barger
Harper Collins Publishers 2000
259 pages, $24.00
Available from the Whitehorse Press
by Victor Wanchena
Motorcycling has many heroes and anti-heroes. The book featured this month is the autobiography of someone who dwells somewhere in-between. Speak of none other than Sonny Barger and his book Hell’s Angel. Sonny is seen by many as a symbol of freedom, a “righteous bro in the wind” and reviled by the powers that be for all the trouble and grief he caused. Love him or hate him, he is a compelling figure of American pop culture.
Hell’s Angel gives a look from the inside at the Hell’s Angels. Sonny gives his side of the story in the book, aside rarely seen or talked about outside the club. Far different from the image that Hollywood and the media in general have loved to hype, we see a club that was far from sainthood, but not the murderous horde of scofflaws that we were always lead to believe lurked on the byways of this great nation.
My only criticism of the book is that it’s a bit choppy at times. Sonny tries to blend his musing on life, the Angels and motorcycling together with stories of his life and they don’t always relate to one another. But no matter, I found it hard to put the book down as he told the Angels version of the Stones concert at Altamont or his reasoning on why the Angels should have switched to Japanese bikes in the seventies when they had the chance. You read right Sonny Barger lets the world know that if it weren’t for the Angels riding exclusively American he buy and ST1100 or even maybe a BMW. Will wonders never cease.