The Rebels: A Brotherhood of Outlaw Bikers


372 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-2724-5
DDC 302.3'4




Reviewed by Tony Barclay

Tony Barclay is a retired juvenile corrections probation officer and a
former public-health research associate at the University of Toronto.


This book is a study of outlaw bikers from the inside. Wolf joined a
club and rode with it for three years, using a participant observer
methodology to prepare his work. As a trained sociologist, he
understands how to look for relevant detail. He uses anecdotes freely,
both to make the text more lively and to add flavor and feeling to his
observations. In preparing the book, he first obtained permission from
club members to use what he saw, thus enabling him to collect data

What Wolf describes is not always pleasant to those who shun
chauvinism, violence, and sexual inequality. Yet every page rings with
authenticity. As he takes us through the successive stages of
“biker,” “friend of the club,” “striker,” “initiate,”
and finally “patch holder,” he shows us how the biker subculture
works. He also describes the basic beliefs of the members and the
origins of their extreme conservative and nationalist views. He explores
the bikers’ relationships with women and with the police, who harass
them at every turn.

This book is perhaps too detailed for the general reader, but it is a
serious and fascinating study for anyone interested in its subject
matter. It makes the world of these bikers clear and logical. The book
is full of fascinating detail and it does not shun unpleasant material.

Readers may be surprised to find that the society Wolf describes is,
for men, democratic and international. The brotherhood of bikers is very
real and has now spread to many parts of the world, crossing both the
Atlantic and the old Iron Curtain. Wolf has done society a service by
allowing us to take a fresh look at a phenomenon that is part of our
world and is likely to be with us for a long time to come.


Wolf, Daniel R., “The Rebels: A Brotherhood of Outlaw Bikers,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024,