Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson

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Bristling with inspired observations and wild anecdotes, this first collection offers a unique insight into the voice and mind of the inimitable Hunter S. Thompson, as recorded in the pages of Playboy, The Paris Review, Esquire, and elsewhere.

Fearless and unsparing, the interviews detail some of the most storied episodes of Thompson’s life: a savage beating at the hands of the Hells Angels, talking football with Nixon on the 1972 Campaign Trail (“the only time in 20 years of ...

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Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson

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Bristling with inspired observations and wild anecdotes, this first collection offers a unique insight into the voice and mind of the inimitable Hunter S. Thompson, as recorded in the pages of Playboy, The Paris Review, Esquire, and elsewhere.

Fearless and unsparing, the interviews detail some of the most storied episodes of Thompson’s life: a savage beating at the hands of the Hells Angels, talking football with Nixon on the 1972 Campaign Trail (“the only time in 20 years of listening to the treacherous bastard that I knew he wasn’t lying”), and his unlikely run for sheriff of Aspen. Elsewhere, passionate tirades about journalism, culture, guns, drugs, and the law showcase Thompson’s voice at its fiercest.

Arranged chronologically, and prefaced with Anita Thompson’s moving account of her husband’s last years, the interviews present Hunter in all his fractured brilliance and provide an exceptional portrait of his times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
National Public Radio
“This amusing collection pulls from 30 years of conversations and reveals the gonzo journalist to be much more of a craftsman than he is often given credit for being. It would, in fact, make a great gift to any budding journalist.”

“What better way to explore any mind (and perhaps especially a mind, like Thompson’s, as warped as it was brilliant) than to go straight to the source?...The interviews in this book capture the outlaw journalist at every glorious twist in the road…This book contains Thompson at his peak, with all the cryptic wit and irony that made him one of America's true literary greats. A must-read for any Thompson aficionado.”

A.V. Club, 7/16/09
“The best items in Gonzo Wisdom are among the straightest: a gratifyingly sober 1979 confab with Washington Journalism Review, and the classic Playboy interview finished right after Nixon’s resignation. Wild and funny though he was, Thompson was always serious about his writing.”

New York Times Paper Cuts book blog, 7/20/09
“The book is fun to rummage around in.”

Creative Loafing Daily Loaf blog, 7/14/09
“A substantial new volume…A solid and indispensible record of Hunter S. Thompson’s public life as a writer.”

Tucson Citizen, Shelf Life blog, 8/5/09
“Arranged in chronological order, the interviews provide remarkable insight into the thinking of this extraordinary man.”

Library Journal, 9/1/09
“All of [the interviews] emphasize Thompson’s flamboyant and exaggerated style. His fervent base of fans will want this book.”, 8/27/09
“Recently, Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson, another book collecting Thompson’s essential interviews was published, and with Ancient Gonzo Wisdom coming so close after that, you might think that there’s a glut of the good doctor out there. Fortunately, there are only a couple of overlapping interviews between the two, and because Anita Thompson has done such an extensive excavation of the Thompson archives—including transcribing rare broadcast interviews in addition to his most important interviews from the publication of Hell’s Angels right up through the months before his death in 2004—this is the vital volume…Trying to pick out the best, or most interesting, interviews here is, of course, impossible. Thompson’s mind is so sharp, his responses so detailed, his considerable charm consistently outpaces his crankiness, even in the later years that it’s hard even to choose a favorite… Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson is as close as we as readers can get to having Thompson as a conversational companion. It’s challenging and clever, frustrating and funny, and it’s a great companion to his canon.”

WNTI Radio website, Hackettstown, NJ, 8/25/09
“Thompson has done all fans of the 'Good Doctor' a favor in compiling these interviews…Ancient Gonzo Wisdom provides a close and personal look at the great gonzo journalist.”

Roanoke Times, 8/23
“Thompson may have seemed to treat Q&As like a lark, but he used them to promote an image of himself, increasingly that of a crazed, politically obsessed Yosemite Sam behind a typewriter. That persona is on full display in Ancient Gonzo Wisdom, a career-spanning collection of interviews, transcripts and profiles…Ancient is a solid overview.”

Waterbury’s Republican-American, 9/6
“Worthy of being placed on the shelf alongside [Thompson’s] reportage and letters, to put a lie to the image that he was an out of control madman who got by on attitude alone. Indeed, the real lesson upon reading this book is that Thompson was as serious a journalist as we had in this country over the past four decades.” and, 9/8
“A marvelous read for fans…Hunter, by way of his editor and widow Anita Thompson, presents an autobiography of sorts through his responses to questions in print, in a lecture hall, on television, and online. Anita does a great job providing footnotes to make clear what is being discussed in the conversations…Provide[s] a very good portrait of the man and his work.” 

New York Press 9/9
“Features previously unpublished interviews from 1974 to 2005 studded with outrageous anecdotes and quotes and some plain-old folk wisdom from the ‘Doctor,’ as he liked to call himself.”, 10/9
“An important part of any library dedicated to The Doctor of Divinity, The Creator of Gonzo Journalism, the man that faced ‘The Fear’ headlong and survived…The book is a superb chronological collection of interviews…The interviews used here in this fine collection are wide ranging…With a collection as good as Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson we get a good glimpse inside the literary giant that created Gonzo Journalism.”

Sinning in L.A., 12/28/09
“With many turns as well as consistencies, the book provides a look at the man behind the typewriter…Sometimes dark and distant, but usually very witty and charming, he’s allowed to show himself, rather than the cartoon caricature that had been created of him by others.”

Library Journal
Hunter S. Thompson, journalist and author of nearly 20 books, including Hell's Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, once said, "I like to get right in the middle of whatever I'm writing about—as personally involved as possible." Edited by Thompson's widow, this volume includes 48 interviews produced in various formats from 1967 to 2005. Well-known magazines, including the Paris Review and Playboy, competed with obscure newspapers to interview Thompson, and interviews that aired on NPR and CNBC are included as well. The topics covered include defining gonzo journalism, his year spent riding with the Hell's Angels, the presidential campaign of 1972, talking football with Richard Nixon, favorite drugs, drinking Wild Turkey, running for sheriff in Aspen, CO, and serving as the model for Uncle Duke in Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury comic strips. VERDICT Many of the early interviews are repetitive, the later ones are more captivating, and all of them emphasize Thompson's flamboyant and exaggerated style. His fervent base of fans will want this book.—Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306816512
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 7/6/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 603,339
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Thompson was Hunter S. Thompson’s wife and assistant. She is the author of The Gonzo Way, a celebration of Thompson’s legacy, and lives in Woody Creek, outside of Aspen, Colorado.

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    Posted December 14, 2012

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