Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club by Sonny Barger

The book is basically a series of vignettes narrated by Sonny Barger, the President and one of the founding members of the Hell’s Angels Oakland Chapter. From a strictly historical viewpoint, this is a good overview into how the MC’s developed from returned vets in World War II up to today.

I did not read the electronic version of the book and so had the benefit of having access to all the pictures. These are a great addition to the read as many are photographs of the individuals Barger is telling stories about. There are also some great pictures of the bikes – particularly choppers from the late 60’s and 70’s.

Let’s say that if you are looking for hardcore murder, mayhem and drug dealing a la “Sons of Anarchy” you may be barking up the wrong tree. There are inferences and allusions to that life but the dirty deeds are skirted. I guess Sonny Barger felt that he had done enough time and smartly did not incriminate himself in the book.

That being said, the stories are fun. Everything from Sturgis to Altamont, from the summer of love in Frisco to the heydays in Oakland are covered. One thing about the MC life becomes obvious by the end of the book – Sonny Barger is lucky to be alive because most of the members he writes about died. Many died in motorcycle accidents, some from drug overdoses and some in prison murders.

Sonny Barger doesn’t glorify it too much but the story is shined and polished and rated PG so there is still some mystique for those looking for that aspect of the life. Rivalries, old ladies, fights, bikes and bikes and more bikes make up a short, light and entertaining read.

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