This is an unedited book review that was originally published in August 2018. As such, it was housed on an archival page. Therefore, it is unedited, and just put here.
Queen was a family man before he gets involved with outlaw bikers. He accepts a role with ATF to go into the Mongols Motorcycle Club in California. He changes everything about himself to fit the role. That includes having to make the hard decisions of being an absentee father. Queen’s story is refreshing in that he doesn’t lose his humanity. Even though there are moments where he has to get in direct contact with prostitution, gang bangs, drugs, and much more. Going undercover is no easy task. He goes deep, and he has to prove that he’s not a cop. The opening of the book immediately throws you into the madness. “Where did you have your training?”, a gun to the head of Queen brings you into the chaos. Queen changes his name, his way of dress, and fits the role.
I loved the show “Sons of Anarchy”. It was with that show that I started to read about outlaw bikers. It wasn’t the first time that I was exposed to the notion of outlaw biking, though. When I was a teenager I picked up a pornographic magazine about bikers. It was interesting. William Queen’s book stood out to me as it was recent, and right on par with what I wanted to read. I just finished reading “Choke”, and well that was good. But I wanted something true, and here we went into picking this option up. I can truly say that “Under and Alone” by William Queen takes the drama and whining that plagues a lot of the “Sons of Anarchy” story arcs and shoves them down a flight of stairs. Queen doesn’t hold back, and this book really hits you hard.
The interesting thing about getting into motorcycle gangs is that there’s a lot of abuse. Sure, you saw a few things in “Sons of Anarchy” that was interesting. That’s tame. The realities of these clubs are not quite as cuddly. There’s no hero, there’s no good guy trying to be right. There’s just drugs, sex, motorcycles, and money. Otherwise, Queen would have a boring book on his hands, full of bikers playing chess and doing nothing to help the community. There’s a lot of abuse that you have to go through if you’re going to get into this world, and in this book, everything is laid out completely. You hear everything you could possibly want to hear about trying to be a biker. It’s not easy, and it’s abusive on all levels.
The abuse levels are not held back. Queen goes through some seriously bad situations, he fights, he gets beat up, and he almost gets caught several times. The police don’t know he’s undercover, he’s not getting special treatment, and he has to deal with the minutia of ATF paperwork and more all the same. The book is explicit. There’s no “polish” here. It’s a first person narrative most of the time, and there’s a lot of information given about the Mongols, the Hell’s Angels, and how ATF penetrated the group.
Through the book, you are cheering for Queen’s undercover work. “Under and Alone” doesn’t give you a sense that you shouldn’t cheer for the good guys. But then things get blurred. When Queen loses his mother, things really start to unravel. It wasn’t the ATF that cared about what happened. It wasn’t them that hugged him and gave him a bit of love. It was the gang. This revelation makes you question the bigger picture. Even under cover, even fighting against corruption, violence, and trying to protect the community, Queen is nothing but a number. This is a powerful turning point. By the time you get there, you realize that humanity is pulled from the undercover agent, and it hurts him deeply to go through what will no doubt be the end result of anyone that penetrates mob rules.
This book is a hard hitting, real experience. It makes you want to compare it to what you’ve seen through movies and television. It’s better. Real life is stranger than fiction, as they say. That’s why I will give “Under and Alone” by William Queen 4 out of 5 stars. My only gripes with it, is that it seems to detail a lot, and yet leave out some. There are some questions that you will no doubt have. There are some details left out, no doubt because Queen can’t just spell every single detail out. Some are simple yes or no answers, so perhaps this is by design. Despite what may be held back, you get a brutal look at what it takes to get into motorcycle gangs and bring them down. This is real, raw, and 100 times better than “Sons of Anarchy” even at its best. There’s a lot to think about here, and at the end of the day, you have to be reminded that The Mongols weren’t innocent victims. They brought it on themselves. Queen puts a great narrative into an accessible book. I loved it.
You can purchase “Under and Alone” by William Queen by clicking here, and ordering it from amazon.