Riding on the Edge

Riding on the Edge by John Hall

A Motorcycle Outlaw's Tale

Format: Paperback / softback, 304 Pages
ISBN: 9780760341339
Publisher: Motorbooks
Buy from an Online Retailer
$17.99 $14.39 / £12.99
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.
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 has raised seven children, half the time as a single parent. He currently lives in a 127-year-old dilapidated farmhouse in the Appalachian Mountains, where he seeks what George Jean Nathan once described as the three essentials of life: reasonable well prepared food, a moderately alcoholic diet, and the amiable company of amiable women.
Format: Paperback / softback, 304 Pages
ISBN: 9780760341339
Size: 6 in x 9 in x 0.75 in / 152.4 mm x 228.6 mm x 19.05 mm

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.”

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.”
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."