Synopses & Reviews
In 1998, William Queen was a veteran law enforcement agent with a lifelong love of motorcycles and a lack of patience with paperwork. When a "confidential informant" made contact with his boss at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, offering to take an agent inside the San Fernando chapter of the Mongols (the scourge of Southern California, and one of the most dangerous gangs in America), Queen jumped at the chance, not realizing that he was kick-starting the most extensive undercover operation inside an outlaw motorcycle gang in the history of American law enforcement.
Nor did Queen suspect that he would penetrate the gang so successfully that he would become a fully "patched-in" member, eventually rising through their ranks to the office of treasurer, where he had unprecedented access to evidence of their criminal activity. After Queen spent twenty-eight months as "Billy St. John," the bearded, beer-swilling, Harley-riding gang-banger, the truth of his identity became blurry, even to himself.
During his initial "prospecting" phase, Queen was at the mercy of crank-fueled criminal psychopaths who sought to have him test his mettle and prove his fealty by any means necessary, from selling (and doing) drugs, to arms trafficking, stealing motorcycles, driving getaway cars, and, in one shocking instance, stitching up the face of a Mongol "ol' lady" after a particularly brutal beating at the hands of her boyfriend.
Yet despite the constant criminality of the gang, for whom planning cop killings and gang rapes were business as usual, Queen also came to see the genuine camaraderie they shared. When his lengthy undercover work totally isolated Queen from family, his friends, and ATF colleagues, the Mongols felt like the only family he had left. "I had no doubt these guys genuinely loved Billy St. John and would have laid down their lives for him. But they wouldn't hesitate to murder Billy Queen."
From Queen's first sleight of hand with a line of methamphetamine in front of him and a knife at his throat, to the fearsome face-off with their decades-old enemy, the Hell's Angels (a brawl that left three bikers dead), to the heartbreaking scene of a father ostracized at Parents' Night because his deranged-outlaw appearance precluded any interaction with regular citizens, Under and Alone is a breathless, adrenaline-charged read that puts you on the street with some of the most dangerous men in America and with the law enforcement agents who risk everything to bring them in.
"This harrowing, turbocharged account of undercover life is reminiscent of Joseph D. Pistone's Donnie Brasco. After military service in Vietnam, Queen began his law enforcement career, eventually spending 20 years as an ATF special agent. In 1998, through contact with a 'confidential informant,' he began to hang with the Mongol Nation, a violent Southern California motorcycle club ('a tight-knit collective of crazies, unpredictable and unrepentant badasses') with 20 chapters in several states and 350 members both in and out of prison. Assuming the role of bearded biker 'Billy St. John,' Queen entered into a 28-month undercover operation. To gather evidence of homicide, weapons and narcotics violations, he sometimes wore a wire, knowing that its discovery could lead to his murder. Indeed, he was suspected at first of being a cop and forced to prove himself in more than a few dangerous situations. But after months of hazing, he became a trusted member. Queen steers clear of melodrama and captures both sides of his double life; the sadistic characters and criminal camaraderie are contrasted with his own inner turmoil, as he thought of the Mongols as his friends while the investigation escalated. The strength and white-hot intensity of the writing make this read like a movie, and Hollywood is certain to take note. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (On sale Apr. 5)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Top-shelf adventure...packed with great intensity...a dark and twisted world, fully realized. Don't be surprised if it runs to bestsellerdom." Kirkus Reviews
"[T]he narrative is unstoppable. A word-of-mouth sleeper." Booklist
"Queen's book is dramatic without being hyped, and the style of writing is conversational, as if the reader were sitting at a bar listening to Queen tell his story. Enjoy it, live vicariously and then go back to your 9-to-5 life." Oregonian
"Under and Alone is the dangerous and fascinating true story of an undercover ATF agent and the psychological price he was made to pay for his courageous work." Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling author of The Onion Field
"A riveting story of a one-of-a-kind officer that takes you to the deepest and most dangerous part of undercover work. Highly recommended." Joseph Pistone, author of Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia
In 1998, when a confidential informant offered to take veteran law-enforcement agent William Queen inside the San Fernando chapter of the Mongols, Queen jumped at the chance. But he never suspected that he would penetrate the gang so successfully that he would become a fully patched-in member, eventually rising through their ranks to the office of treasurer, where he had unprecedented access to evidence of their criminal activity. During his initial prospecting phase, Queen was at the mercy of crank-fueled criminal psychopaths who forced him to prove his mettle by any means necessary, from selling (and doing) drugs, to arms trafficking, stealing motorcycles, and driving getaway cars. Yet despite the constant criminality of the gang, for whom cop-killings and gang rapes were par for the course, Queen came to see the genuine camaraderie they shared. After twenty-eight months as Billy St. John, the bearded, beer-swilling, Harley-riding gang-banger, Queen found that the truth of his identity became blurry even to himself. A breathless, adrenaline-charged read, Under and Alone puts you on the street with some of the most dangerous, marginalized men in America and with the law-enforcement agents who risk everything to bring them in.
A breathless, adrenaline-charged read, Under and Alone puts readers on the street with members of America's most violent outlaw motorcycle gang and with the law-enforcement agents who risk everything to bring them in.
In this breathless, adrenaline-charged "New York Times" bestseller, a veteran law enforcement agent tells the true story of how he went undercover to infiltrate America's most violent outlaw motorcycle club, Hell's Angels.
About the Author
William Queen spent twenty years as a Special Agent with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. A Vietnam War veteran, Queen served with the U.S. Army Special Forces and was awarded the Silver Star during his 1971 tour of duty. After his military service, Queen devoted his entire career to law enforcement. For his groundbreaking undercover work playing the part of biker "Billy St. John," William Queen was awarded the 2001 Federal Bar Association's Medal of Valor, the Director's Award from the Department of Justice, the Robert Faulkner Memorial Outstanding Investigation Award from the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigator Association, the Medal of Valor from the International Narcotics Investigators Association, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
A Conversation with William Queen
1) When you were undercover with the Mongols, did you ever stop 'playing the role' and start to identify with the group? How was your sense-of-self challenged?
I found myself becoming the part I was playing from time to time. Especially after I got used to the idea that I could fit in with such a lawless and twisted group of people without actually getting myself killed. The more time I spent with them the more what we think of as normal social events I incurred, along with what you and I think of as family time. I even found myself believing that they were, for the most part, just like you and me. Quite often Mongols would treat me like a real brother even to the point that I knew they would put their lives on the line for me. I compared this to my brothers in arms at ATF and realized very few of them who would put their lives on the line for me. I became confused, sometimes quite often. This really came to a head with the death of my mother. Not a single ATF employee expressed condolences about my losing her. But Mongol after Mongol told me that they were sorry about my Mom and that they loved me. I felt genuinely guilty for what I was doing. And I realized how much of a number I was to ATF. I truly wanted to be a Mongol at that point. I even thought about telling them the truth and backing out of the undercover operation. I was saved from my confusion by the Mongols propensity for crime and violence. Just when I thought I knew what was really right with the Mongols, they would do something stupid like murder someone or rape some female. I was instantly brought to reality again. But, it would still weigh on me as you might imagine.
2) Why is being a 1%er a source of pride for OMG members? Do they choose this path because they thrive on lawlessness, or are they drifters looking to be taken in by a community?
OMGs (outlaw motorcycle gangs) dont want to be part of the norm, the mainstream. They dont want to conform and dont care for The System. For the most part they dont care what the community or society thinks or demands. They take pride in the Outlaw part of the 1%er. Laws are made for people like you and me. 1%ers have their own code they live by. Not everyone can be an outlaw. Just like other elite groups, this is what they pride themselves in. The way they see it, they are a unique and elite group of people. So if you can make it (with them), you are somebody.
For the most part 1%ers come from the criminal side of our society. They are already outside the mainstream and quite often find themselves in some type of criminal gang. OMGs are like the ultimate gang. They have a mystique about them. A kind of cream of the criminal crop. They portray power as a group and as individuals. Fear is quite often confused with respect in this world and the less successful people looking for success quite often see themselves with power if they could be a part of such organizations. OMGs arent looking for intelligent or educated people. They are looking for the birds of a feather. Once inside, there is a real sense of security. You dont fight a Mongol, you fight the Mongols. Mongol brothers dont care whether you cheat your neighbor or sell drugs. They dont care whether you take a bath or drink too much. They are going to accept you anyway. Theyll stand together when other organizations fall apart.
3) What kind of presence do outlaw motorcycle gangs have today. Are they as large and organized still as they were when you were undercover?
OMGs are world-wide. They are bigger today then when I rode. They are as organized and as dangerous as ever.
4) Do you still ride?
I do still ride. I own a 2000 Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide. Ill ride till I cant ride any more.