- Ralph 'Sonny' Barger: Hell's Angels
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- Hell's Angel - The Life And Times Of Sonny Barger And The Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club
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Ioan Grillo. The Gangs Of Manchester. Andrew Davies.
Ralph 'Sonny' Barger: Hell's Angels
London's Gangs at War. Dick Kirby. Gangs Of London. Brian McDonald. The Gangs Of Birmingham. Philip Gooderson. The Gangs Of Liverpool. Michael Macilwee. Carl Fellstrom. Young Blood. Graham Johnson. Young Guns. Steve Hackman. No Angel. Jay Dobyns. Legends of the Firm.
Cass Pennant. Ross Kemp. Gangs II. They had Sonny's half-sister, Virginia.
But Sylvia only stayed around four years and one day was gone, taking Virginia and everything that wasn't nailed down with her. Sonny and his older sister were pretty much on their own after Sylvia left and their grandmother died. When Ralph was home, he was usually drunk or at the bar and paid little attention to his children. Sonny hated school and as the years passed, he tended to hang with the ruffians at school.
When he was very young, he organized a club that was dubbed, "Earth Angels," a predecessor of a club he would later help form as an adult. As a young teenager, Sonny got into his first scrapes with the law. He was arrested for DUI several times. His violations soon escalated to drug and assault charges. At sixteen, he found himself without a real home. He forged his birth certificate and joined the army.
Hell's Angel - The Life And Times Of Sonny Barger And The Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club
After serving fourteen months, his real age was exposed and he was forced to leave the army although he was given an honorable discharge. He returned to Oakland where he became interested in motorcycles. He associated with other young men, many of whom were military veterans who also loved motorcycles and the free spirit they felt that riding gave them. The phrase "Hell's Angels" was popular in the military since World War I when a fighter squadron acquired the name.
Through the years, the name was used for various military craft. Sonny helped to form the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels not knowing that there were several such organizations already forming in other areas of California. For many years, the club was strictly limited to California chapters but eventually clubs were allowed to form in other cities and even in other countries.
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However, the control and oversight of the organization as a whole was maintained in California. The men who joined the Angels considered themselves patriotic and defenders of the first amendment.
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- Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club.
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They displayed a loyalty to each other and their clubs. 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. Here at Walmart.
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