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The Sex and Savagery of Hell's Angels

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New English Library, London, 1972
(price: 25p; 128 pages)
(originally published by Greenleaf Classics, 1966)

The blurb on the back:

They live on ton-up motorcycles - screaming across the roads of America, leaving behind a trail of drunken brawls, sexual assaults, destruction and terror.
They are Hell's Angels: a breed of wild young men who dress like pirates and wear Nazi emblems.
They defy law and order, live by their own violent code and dice with death every day.
Jan Hudson knows the Angels. He's mixed with them and their girls and heard their views on life, sex, violence - and, most important of all, motorcycles. His book is a startling inside picture of the most amazing rebels of the sixties.

One of the problems with the New English Library is that occasionally (very occasionally) they'll slip a good book out. But the cover, the style and the presentation will be as trashy as all the other stuff, so you've got no way of really knowing. This one's a case in point.

Originally published in America in 1966, it's written by Jan Hudson, who claimed to have been - at least for a while - an Angel himself, and was certainly more convincing on the subject than just about anyone else who had a go. This includes both Hunter S Thompson, whose more famous book followed and set the tone for many subsequent works, and the self-serving Sonny Barger.

None of which is intended to suggest that this is a serious sociological study. It's just as capable of indulging in celebration-posing-as-disapproval and in myth-making as anyone else, but it's got a touch of authenticity in key places (such as the Angels' place in US politics) and an awareness of history - the book starts back in the 1940s with a bikers' riot in Hollister, North California in either 1946 or 1947 depending on which sentence you're reading at the time.

Best of all it has a glossary - entitled 'How to talk like a Hell's Angel for fun and profit' - and a list of bike clubs that is a treasure trove for any band looking to revive 1960s punk: The Coffin Cheaters, The Stray Satans, The Devil's Henchmen, The Gypsy Outlaws...

Additional Note: Jan Hudson was a pseudonym used by the SF writer George H Smith. As so often, I am grateful to Ian Covell for drawing this to my attention.


from the maker of:
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Bikers At War
some angelic fiction...

Alex Stuart
The Devil's Rider

Thom Ryder
Angel Alone

Thomas K Fitzpatrick
The Blood Circus

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