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Freedom: Credos from the Road Hardcover – Import, 14 Jun 2005
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After a couple of memoirs, a novel, and an anecdote collection, Barger presents words to live by, aimed at chopper pilots but actually for everyone. The wisdom arises from Barger's colorful past as a kingpin in the Oakland, California, and national Hell's Angels. Some of it is obvious. "If you're gonna ride, wear leather," for instance, is, as well as damn fine fashion advice, solid counsel for hurling oneself down the highway on a two-wheeled motor vehicle. "Screw fightin' fair" is a little more esoteric, but "Do you fight fair or do you fight to win?" Barger asks before recalling the time when "a group decided to invade our gathering with weapons, clubs, knives, and baseball bats" (this was at a book signing, not a catalogers' meeting about replacing AACR2). As to management theory and practice, "Only one person can ride a motorcycle," Barger intones, which correlates to his bottom line on life: take control of it. And if you're "gonna take a beating[,] . . . fight back." The icon hath spoken. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Ralph "Sonny" Barger is the author of Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. A master mechanic who has owned and operated his own bike shops, he currently lives in Arizona, where he rides every day.
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The only answer I can see to this is to ask another question. "Are HUMANS criminals?"
Both questions can be answered in the same way. Sonny Barger is a convicted felon. According to Henry Silverglate's book "Three Felonies a Day," virtually every professional in this country is an UNCHARGED and UNCONVICTED felon. I personally know a man who was sent to a Federal minimum security prison for 18 months for conducting his business with the government in a way that saved taxpayers a consideral amount of money and made him nothing, so to call someone a "felon" means very little to me.
"Freedom" is not a work of protest, nor is it in any way revolutionary. It elucidates what most of us believe about the concept central to American life, but don't often really think about. Because the word appears in the documents that were written during the design of our nation, we all assume Freedom is inviolate and never-changing, but in reality, it is neither. Freedom means what we allow it to mean, and it is vitally important for all Americans to constantly remind themselves what does and most importantly, what does NOT constitute living in a free society.
THAT'S what Mr. Barger's book "Freedom" does so well, it lays out exactly what the concept of freedom means to him. When you look past the long hair and beard (neither of which Sonny currently sports), the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the Hells Angels patch on the back of his leather "cut" or vest (which for Sonny isn't usually leather anymore, it's a heavy denim and the bike a beautiful and expensive - still American made, though - Victory) I think you'll find you agree far more than not, with the founder of the most famous (and notorious) motorcycle club in the world.
The trouble the U.S. is in these days is because our leaders aren't more like Sonny Barger. If he weren't a convicted felon and ran for office, I would get on my Harley-Davidson FXDF and ride door-to-door to help elect him. Fortunately, Sonny Barger is FAR too honest a man to try for elected office. But wouldn't it be nice if we could get a few of our elected officials to read "Freedom" and realize what it means to the people they are elected to serve?
It is not just for motorcyclists, it has value for everyone because it is about how to live in freedom from someone who knows the true value of freedom, friendship and family.