No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels

No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels

3.9 208
by Jay Dobyns, Nils Johnson-Shelton
     
 

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Here, from Jay Dobyns, the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the outlaw Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, is the inside story of the twenty-one-month operation that almost cost him his family, his sanity, and his life.

Getting shot in the chest as a rookie agent, bartering for machine guns, throttling down the highway at 100 mph, and responding… See more details below

Overview

Here, from Jay Dobyns, the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the outlaw Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, is the inside story of the twenty-one-month operation that almost cost him his family, his sanity, and his life.

Getting shot in the chest as a rookie agent, bartering for machine guns, throttling down the highway at 100 mph, and responding to a full-scale, bloody riot between the Hells Angels and their rivals, the Mongols–these are just a few of the high-adrenaline experiences Dobyns recounts in this action-packed, hard-to-imagine-but-true story.

Dobyns leaves no stone of his harrowing journey unturned. At runs and clubhouses, between rides and riots, Dobyns befriends bad-ass bikers, meth-fueled “old ladies,” gun fetishists, psycho-killer ex-cons, and even some of the “Filthy Few”–the elite of the Hells Angels who’ve committed extreme violence on behalf of their club. Eventually, at parties staged behind heavily armed security, he meets legendary club members such as Chuck Zito, Johnny Angel, and the godfather of all bikers, Ralph “Sonny” Barger. To blend in with them, he gets full-arm ink; to win their respect, he vows to prove himself a stone-cold killer.

Hardest of all is leading a double life, which has him torn between his devotion to his wife and children, and his pledge to become the first federal agent ever to be “fully patched” into the Angels’ near-impregnable ranks. His act is so convincing that he comes within a hairsbreadth of losing himself. Eventually, he realizes that just as he’s been infiltrating the Hells Angels, they’ve been infiltrating him. And just as they’re not all bad, he’s not all good.

Reminiscent of Donnie Brasco’s uncovering of the true Mafia, this is an eye-opening portrait of the world of bikers–the most in-depth since Hunter Thompson’s seminal work–one that fully describes the seductive lure criminal camaraderie has for men who would otherwise be powerless outsiders. Here is all the nihilism, hate, and intimidation, but also the freedom–and, yes, brotherhood–of the only truly American form of organized crime.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this white-knuckler, ATF agent Dobyns infiltrates a chapter of the Hells Angels to show that, aside from much of the romance surrounding the group, it is indeed a violent gang. His investigations lead him through a fascinating cast of crystal meth-heads, gun runners, gang rapists and frauds. Dobyns and co-writer Johnson-Shelton tell a bracing story in straightforward prose that doesn't dilute any aspect of the toll his undercover act (a sprawling long-term investigation that penetrated deeper into the gang than any other) took on his life. A family guy who frequently finds himself taking calls from his worried wife while in the middle of an operation, Dobyns is brutally honest about how far his assignment takes him into the dark side and leaves the impression at the end that it's highly unlikely he will ever be able to totally return to undercover work (Hunter S. Thompson was beaten up while writing his 1967 take on the gang in Hell's Angels). From the medieval desert clan gatherings to breakneck-paced highway odysseys and high-noon showdowns, this is the real deal from an agent whose knack for the job and ability to transform it into elucidating reading recalls the story of Joe Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco. (Feb.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Veteran ATF agent Dobyns's account of his infiltration into the Hells Angels reveals the violence, paranoia and numbing boredom of the bikers' world. He entered that world in 2001 in Arizona as Jay "Bird" Davis, with a prefabricated reputation as a gun dealer, enforcer and hit man. His goal was to build a case that the Angels controlled criminal activity among bikers in that state so that charges might be brought against them. To do this he needed to gain their trust, which he quickly did. With his tattoos, greasy hair and, of course, Harley-Davidson motorcycle, he looked like them. With his apparent nihilistic rage and willingness at all times to commit violence, especially in protection of his brother Angels, he acted like them. But in reality, nothing much happened. Dobyns made minor gun deals, bought small amounts of drugs, gathered and recorded evidence bit by bit. His brother bikers seemed to spend their time drinking beer and cheap whiskey, having sex with women who more often than not were burned-out meth addicts. They held endless meetings over huge piles of waffles at greasy diners. For all their rebel persona, the Angels had more rules than a convent or a corporation. But the violence, while mostly implied, was definitely there. Dobyns learned of a shootout in a bar between the Angels and their hated rivals the Mongols. He heard of a woman stomped to death at an Angels clubhouse for disrespecting them. Still, inevitably and predictably, Jay became Bird, and his suburban home, wife and kids became traps he wished to escape so he could return to his brother outlaws, among whom he found perverse love and protection. In the end, though many charges were filed against the Angels,there were few convictions. Bird returned to being Jay, having learned that the Angels are not all bad and he is not all good. A good yarn better told in Joe Pistone's Donnie Brasco(1987), as well as Alex Caine's forthcoming Befriend and Betray. Film rights to Twentieth Century Fox, with Tony Scott to direct
From the Publisher
"A high-velocity trip into a frightening American underworld told in rapid-fire, hard-boiled prose." —Evan Wright, author of the national bestseller Generation Kill

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307452177
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
02/10/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
46,293
File size:
3 MB

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From the Publisher
"A high-velocity trip into a frightening American underworld told in rapid-fire, hard-boiled prose." —-Evan Wright, author of the national bestseller Generation Kill

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