But though Thompson’s depiction of an alienated – white – masculine working-class culture—one that is fundamentally misunderstood by intellectuals—is not the only one out there – it was the first.
And in some ways it is still the best psychological study of those Americans often dismissed as ‘white trash’ or ‘deplorables’.
Thompson’s Angels were mostly working-class white men who felt not incorrectly that they had been relegated to the sewer of American society.
Their unswerving loyalty to the nation— the Angels had started as a World War II veterans group—had not paid them any rewards or won them any enduring public respect.
The manual-labor skills that they had learned and cultivated were in declining demand.
Though most had made it through high school they did not have the more advanced levels of training that might lead to economic or professional security.
‘Their lack of education’ Thompson wrote ‘rendered them completely useless in a highly technical economy’.
Looking at the American future they saw no place for themselves in it.