Monday, September 29, 2014


The cover of 'The Chopper: The Real Story'
After what seemed like an eternity during the process, my latest book is finally available for preview and pre-order.  'The Chopper: the Real Story' is published by Gestalten, with whom I worked on the best-seller 'The Ride' (with Chris Hunter, Gary Inman, and David Edwards).  Gestalten is known as a high-quality publisher of contemporary art/design books, and the success of 'The Ride' encouraged them to probe a little deeper into the design history of motorcycles; after much discussion, they asked me to write the history of choppers, which proved challenging for both of us.  I think the result will stand the test of time, although some of my research will likely prove controversial.
Yes, Marlon makes an appearance, but it's Chino I write about...
It took many months of interviews and research to document the history and development of chopper, as while everyone 'knows' what a chopper is, and lots of books have been published about them, nobody until now has attempted to document the history of this quintessentially American folk-art form.  After having done so, I understand why nobody has tried!  It was a very difficult process, and I was denied access to plenty of information and useful photographic archives, and even verbally threatened at times for simply asking questions about motorcycles.  I steered clear of gang culture, as that story has been told many times; my research solely concerned who did what when to the motorcycles, from 1920s 'Cut-downs' and 1930s 'Bob-jobs', to the first ape-hangers and crazy chrome jobs, to the first show choppers and extended forks, to the present day revival of old-school bikes.
Yep, we got the rights to a few Danny Lyons photos...a very satisfying feeling!
At about 60,000 words, I joked many times that it was too bad I hadn't done my research under the auspices of a University, as 'Chopper' would have earned a doctorate!  The print quality will be to Gestalten's usual excellent standard, which means the book won't be cheap, just big and beautiful. Kind of like the subject.

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Rhynchocephalian said...

Looking forward to having a copy. Perhaps even having a copy signed sometime in the future?

Guitarslinger said...

As I said . Placed my order a week or so ago thru my iconic locally owned bookseller [ I prefer to keep my money local when possible ] and can't wait for the phone call saying its arrived !

But Paul ? You were actually threatened ? With bodily harm I presume ? All for digging into the history of an American Icon ? [ I consider Choppers to be more ' iconic ' than Folk Art ]

Why in the name of everything GearHead would some folks feel threatened enough to threaten someone asking questions about a fairly substantial aspect of American Motorcycling history ?

Madness I say ! And a story methinks good sir you need to go into a bit more detail about here . Minus the names if that makes things safer . Cause .. inquiring minds want to know ;-)