Riding on the Edge: A Motorcycle Outlaw's Tale

( 4 )

Overview


Ride with author John Hall into the turbulent world of 1960s bike club culture, from his beginnings at an upstart motorcycle club to his rise to the Long Island chapter president of the Pagans, a club that the FBI called “the most violent criminal organization in America.” Follow him into the Pagan heartland of Pennsylvania where he fell in love, got in a roadhouse brawl over a honky-tonk angel, and eventually went to jail for “takin’ care a club business.” Now after a career as a journalist and college ...
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Riding on the Edge: A Motorcycle Outlaw's Tale

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Overview


Ride with author John Hall into the turbulent world of 1960s bike club culture, from his beginnings at an upstart motorcycle club to his rise to the Long Island chapter president of the Pagans, a club that the FBI called “the most violent criminal organization in America.” Follow him into the Pagan heartland of Pennsylvania where he fell in love, got in a roadhouse brawl over a honky-tonk angel, and eventually went to jail for “takin’ care a club business.” Now after a career as a journalist and college professor, he returns to the violent days of his youth and smashes up stereotypes like he once smashed up bars, resurrecting long-dead brothers in a style reminiscent of Jack Kerouac and Mark Twain. Hall presents them as they really were: hard living, hard loving, hard drinking, hard fighting rebels, but also hardworking, patriotic, loyal, and lovable characters. Outlaws, yes, but outlaws as American as apple pie.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Motorcycle.com Review by Dustin Woods (5.28.09)

"Few people are able to retrospectively recount the life of an outlaw biker with such accuracy and candor as John Hall, mostly because few people so deeply entrenched within such a culture ever make it out alive. If rival gangs, bar brawls or bike accidents don’t kill them, years of hard drinking and hard living usually do. Hall is an exception to these rules as he successfully transcended this great divide. Proving that sometimes our justice system actually works and men can be rehabilitated, Hall turned his life around from being the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang the FBI called “the most violent criminal organization in America” and being incarcerated to becoming an acclaimed journalist and college professor.

Hall demonstrates eloquence and intellect, traditionally unheard of with first person recounts of biker culture. Documenting historical sociological connections to the beliefs and brotherhood of medieval Vikings, Hall paints a sometimes entertaining, occasionally chilling picture of men who live beyond the boundaries of our society yet will do anything to uphold the sacred values and tradition of their heritage. While other biker clubs were merely cruising for chicks and looking for kicks, Hall explains how the Pagans became one of the most feared and respected clubs in the country. Men who lack the fear of pain, death or any consequences whatsoever create a truly unruly and terrifying opponent. The often vulgar yet intuitive book definitively explains where biker culture stems from within our society and more specifically the individual, offering incredible insight into the hearts and minds of men who were vicious and violent, while at the same time adamant at preserving the structure and sanctity of their brotherhood, at all costs. Not merely anarchy for the sake of it, Hall effectively describes this truly fascinating dichotomy.

While often glorifying a lifestyle that shocked and terrified the dreams and towns of law-abiding citizens, Hall also portrays the grim reality of the consequences that befall the men who live outside the laws of society. Whether you are interested in the sociology of such sub cultures or just want to read a firsthand account of life within an outlaw biker club, Riding on the Edge will surely quench this thirst like a cold beer at a biker rally."

RoadRUNNER Magazine

“If you've ever dreamed of being an outlaw, you might think each chapter of Riding on the Edge is a badass bedtime story for adults. But if anecdotes of beer drinking and womanizing don't appeal to your inner rebel, then the thought-provoking reflections of author John Hall might interest you. A college professor and political columnist, Hall's "first life" was spent riding a Triumph in the 1960s with the outlaw club, the Pagans. Ever wondered why bikers get a bad name? Riding on the Edge breaks down the stereotypes and newspaper headlines to reveal the raw moments in time which spawned them. And there is no shortage of historical references or interesting facts in this book. However, John Hall's writing is so down-to-earth it seems as if you're listening to a favorite uncle spin a tale. And with characters like Satan, Big Dutch, & Sleepy weaving in and out of the storyline, you may never want that tale to end.”

Steppin' Out Magazine

“Unlike a ranting hoodlum who might say whatever he feels like saying or exaggerate details, this author did his homework with regard to facts, figures and dates. This is truly a smart, solid and just plain damn good read! If you would like to tak ea look back through the window of time to the late 60’s biker scene at its most intense level, you should pick up a copy of Mr. Hall’s book.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760341339
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Publication date: 10/7/2011
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 301
  • Sales rank: 538,140
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

A former chapter president of the Long Island Pagans, John Hall has done time in the state pen, as well as Penn State, where he taught history, American studies, rhetoric, and mathematics. He also worked as bouncer, bartender, bookmaker, stonemason, professional gambler, law clerk, and freelance journalist. He has written over 400 syndicated opinion columns, which have appeared in over a dozen newspapers, including the Houston Post and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He currently lives in the Appalachian Mountains.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2008

    Excellent !

    A great story, written in such style that the reader feels as though they're riding along with the Pagans throughout the whole book. You'll meet intriguing, animated characters in each chapter to accompany you through a story that could only take place in America during the late 60's. A fine piece of motorcycle literature, indeed.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2009

    Best book about outlaw motorcycle clubs I have read

    For anyone who want's to know how motorcycle clubs used to be, you need to get this book. It was amazingly well written for the subject matter. The book flows like any well written novel. The author recounts his time as a leader in the Pagan's MC back in the mid to late 60's. These guys were no saints, but they were a lot different than the image of today's outlaw mc's. I'm currently reading a couple of other books on the subject, and they don't hold a flame to this book as far as content and style. I think anyone would be pleased with the stories in this book, especially if you enjoy the freedom of the open road on two wheels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    We¿re all born to lose

    I have always been fascinated by outlaw bikers; probably because my own life is so mundane. Like 99% of people, I play by the rules of society. Such is not the way of the one percenter. He lives his life fast and loose, doing as he pleases 24 hours a day, seven days a week, giving a one finger salute to all authority figures that stand in his way. Long before they controlled the meth in Philadelphia, the Pagans MC were simply outlaws. Author, John Hall, draws a clear distinction between the terms outlaw and criminal. Modern Pagans are organized criminals. The Pagans of the 60’s were outlaws. Hall’s straightforward story telling brings you back to the east coast of the mid -sixties. He tells it like it is (was), even exposing his own personal failures in this two year odyssey from the club’s infancy on to the barroom brawl that landed him and his crew in the slammer. It’s a tale of riding, drinking, and the occasional destruction of a bar or two. You’ll find that the legend is far more exaggerated than the truth. Yeah they carried guns, yeah they beat people up, and of course they rumbled with rival clubs. Not as much as you would think, though. They often tolerated other gangs like the Aliens and partied together. They even had an alliance with the Pharaohs, an African American club. Despite adorning Nazi tattoos, wearing swastikas and German helmets, they could not discriminate against other outlaws if they were “good people”. Hall goes to great lengths to proclaim that nobody made money being a Pagan in his day. Most of the guys were the descendants of Pennsylvania Dutch and grew up to become blue collar working men with full time jobs, often in labor unions. The life was far from glamorous. Hall describes spending many a night sleeping in moldy basements and garages on cold concrete floors sans blankets. He seemed to have scored a few hot chicks despite often being an unwashed biker. The hard drug scene would creep in and foreshadow the beginning of the end of Hall’s era. If you think bikers are just knuckle dragging morons, Hall is here to adjust your expectations. He became an avid reader and begins each chapter with a deep literary quote. This is a fun and insightful ride with the east coast’s most infamous biker gang. You’ll feel like you’re embedded with this crew of hard living antiheros. If the allure of a true badass captures your imagination as it does mine, I recommend “Riding on the Edge”.

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    Posted January 13, 2012

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    Posted November 19, 2008

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