Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

( 275 )

Overview

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page.  It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.

Now this cult classic of gonzo journalism is a major motion picture from Universal, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp and ...

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

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Overview

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page.  It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.

Now this cult classic of gonzo journalism is a major motion picture from Universal, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.

An electric piece of work that takes off like a screaming rocket about the world of drugs in Las Vegas.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When Sports Illustrated commissioned Thompson to write a short article on the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Las Vegas, the editors had no idea what they were setting in motion. This book is the defining moment in Thompson's "gonzo journalism" style of writing. He took this style to the limit with this work, barely covering the race and instead writing a series of weird vignettes, paranoid frenzies, and brilliant political prose. If you lived through the turmoil of the Sixties or want to experience the "high and beautiful wave" and see where it broke and gave way to a generation of swine and the songs of the doomed, this is the place to start. Thompson was always a political barometer-he was the voice of truth shouting about the corrupt system. That voice, now stilled by death, is sorely missed. Ron McLarty, though not the frenzied, manic voice one would expect to hear, does an excellent job of navigating Las Vegas. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Crawford Woods
"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." The hold deepens for two days, and the language keeps pace for 200 pages, in what is by far the funniest book written on the decade of dope gone by. Books of the Century, The New York Times review July, 1972
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679785897
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition description: 2nd Vintage Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 29,622
  • Product dimensions: 8.26 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson lives in Woody Creek, Colorado.

Biography

Hunter S. Thompson has always had taste for starting trouble. As an ornery Kentucky kid, he was the undisputed leader of the pack, getting himself and his willing followers into trouble. Not much has changed -- Thompson still has throngs of supporters and fans and is now an icon of outspoken, unapologetic social commentary.

Thompson realized in high school that he didn't fit in with society at large. Seeking direction, he joined the Air Force after graduation, determined to be a pilot. While on the long waiting list for pilot training, Thompson was offered a position as an editor and sportswriter for Elgin Air Force Base's The Command Courier. He jumped at the chance, quickly excelled as a journalist, and even began moonlighting at a local paper. Despite his numerous offenses against military protocol, he was given an honorable discharge in 1957.

Thompson knew that writing was going to be a fixture in his life. He was an avid letter writer, often mixing fact and fantasy. After allegedly stealing a box of carbon paper when he left the Air Force, he began keeping copies every letter he sent. Eventually, his letters would be published in The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955-1967 (The Fear and Loathing Letters), three books of love letters, correspondence with his family, and scathing complaint letters to companies Thompson deemed bad for society. The collection is considered a must-read for the glimpse it gives of how desperately Thompson wanted to be a writer.

After the Air Force, Thompson bounced through newspaper jobs, barely making ends meet and working on his first novel, the still unpublished Prince Jellyfish. In 1960 Thompson moved to Puerto Rico. It was less than ideal -- paychecks bounced regularly -- but his time in the Caribbean yielded The Rum Diary. Thompson tried to sell the novel to Random House in the 1960s, but they declined (it was eventually published in 1998).

Thompson's first novel, Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, came out in 1966, catapulting him to fame and intriguing readers with his fast-paced writing and mischievous, wicked sense of humor. With the success of Hell's Angels, Random House finally purchased The Rum Diary. However, as legend has it, Hunter felt that it needed more work, so he convinced a Random House secretary to steal his manuscript back for him.

By the time Thompson released Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream in 1971, he had perfected his signature style, Gonzo Journalism: wild and erratic, capturing events as they happen, stripped of motive yet decidedly fictionalized. Thompson isn't a passive observer but is instead another one of his freaked-out characters. In the voice of Thompson's alter ego, Raoul Duke, he and his attorney, Oscar Acosta (Dr. Gonzo), go on a destructive drug binge while traveling to Las Vegas to report on a motorcycle race and crash a district attorneys' convention. Thompson found an artistic counterpart in illustrator Ralph Steadman, who designed this cover and others. It's classic Thompson and in 1998 was made into a movie staring Johnny Depp.

A self-proclaimed political junkie, Thompson gave his readers a glaring testimony of the truth and lies found while following the 1972 presidential race in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. In fact, one of Thompson's grand, recurring themes is the myth of the American Dream. The four-volume Gonzo Papers consists of articles, essays, and fiction. They are a massive attempt to expose the failure of the American Dream and show where hope is still possible. The four volumes, in order, are The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979), Generation of Swine:Tales of Decadence and Degradation in the Eighties (1988), Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream (1990) and Better than Sex: Trapped like a Rat in Mr. Bill's Neighborhood (1994).

In 1980, Running magazine sent Thompson to Hawaii to cover the Honolulu Marathon. Friend and illustrator Ralph Steadman joined Thompson for the trip, and the result was The Curse of Lono, a fully illustrated, colorful, and strange mix of fiction and travelogue. Another oddity in Thompson's collection of works is his notorious 1991 release, Screwjack, a limited-print novella containing three short stories, ostensibly written by alter ego Raoul Duke.

In Thompson's 2003 release, Kingdom of Fear, he seems to have broken the rules one more time and written his own biography. The book tracks the life of a rebel -- the formative experiences of a wisecracking southern boy questioning authority and the unorthodox journalist who came to personify genre-bending, mind-bending outlaw stories.

Thompson's final book, Hey Rube (2004) brings him full circle; it's a sample of his columns from his stint as a sportswriter for ESPN.com. Thompson doles out searing indictments and uproarious rants while providing brilliant commentary on politics, sex, and sports -- at times all in the same column. Proving once again that he's on top of his game, his keen eye for corruption is as sharp and unforgiving as ever.

Fans and friends were shocked and saddened to learn of Thompson's death in February, 2005. While his narratives are often weird and ugly, he will always be respected and hailed as a professional risk taker, legendary agitator, and literary genius.

Good To Know

True to form, Hunter S. Thompson missed his high school graduation because he was in jail at the time, serving a six-week sentence for robbery.

Thompson once ran for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, under his own Freak Party, whose platform included changing the city's name to Fat City in hopes of scaring off corporate investors.

Thompson was the original inspiration for Uncle Duke, a larger-than-life controlled substances buff created by Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau.

Mötley Crüe named their Generation Swine album after Volume Two of Thompson's Gonzo Papers. The book dealt with the debauchery and decadence of the era, and they found it perfect for their sleazy, irreverent brand of rock 'n' roll.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Hunter Stockton Thompson (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 18, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      Louisville, Kentucky
    1. Date of Death:
      February 20, 2005
    2. Place of Death:
      Woody Creek, Colorado

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 275 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(186)

4 Star

(62)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 278 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 5, 2012

    One book that contains everything about freedom and chasing a dr

    One book that contains everything about freedom and chasing a dream metaphorically. Fear and loathing in las vegas contains excitement, extreme drug use, and a baseline for the "American Dream" Not only did the plot story strongly interest the reader, but the metaphoric ending contains truth and revelation.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    Even if you've seen the movie...

    ... read the book. There are parts in here that were not put on the screen, and you get to be inside the head of R Duke. What better way to spend a few hours than to dance around the streets of Vegas while tripping your *** off. And besides, who better to tell the tale than Hunter? He has a wonderful way with words, and the scenes he paints jump off the page with vibrant color.

    Again, read this book even if you've seen the movie. It's a better ride. Just bring some golf shoes!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    Pure Hunter S Thompson brilliance...

    This is the book that 'defined a generation', as many have put it. and after reading it i only wish i could have been there to experience the time Thompson is talking about. this piece of literature shows and describes everything you want to know about the dope decade in utter extravagance and is a shear testimony to the power of literature. the words are as precise and impenetrable as you could ever find and the ideas set forth provoke visions in the reader's mind that transcend anything that could be told to you by some one who was actually there. i'm not sure if i read a book or 204 pages of a man proving that you can talk about a psychedelic drug trip in a way that makes the reader feel like they are having the trip, themselves. this book dedicates itself to the idea and conviction that people can still write incredibly well and forces the reader to not only think about the time the literature is speaking of, but also their time and what they will do with it. 'Just another freak in the freak kingdom.' Thompson not only certifies this as true but also proves to the audience that he is not just a freak, but another genius in the realm of the written word and that nothing can take that reputation away from a person.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2000

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: An American Classic at its Best

    A fantastic book! Hunter S. Thompson has created a masterpiece that will go down in history as one of the best American Classics. Never before have I read anything like him. He is an original.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Better than the movie

    funny as heck. Very well written in most parts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2008

    Great

    This book is short, bt very well written. The book starts off great and ends great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Dr. X

    TOP 10 LIST: Most overrated writers of all time #10 Hunter S Thompson

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  • Posted April 30, 2014

    f you have a big imagination than this book is for you. Hunter S

    f you have a big imagination than this book is for you. Hunter S Tompson does an incredible job of painting an image in you head with the way he describes his trip to Las Vegas. In Fear and Loathing  Hunter S Tompson goes under the aliest of Raoul Duke goes to Las Vegas with his attorny Dr. Gonzo to cover the Mint 400 race but instead goes on an intensive drug freenzy and starts looking for the "American Dream". This book will keep you on your toes the entire ride that this book creates.  "The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Fear and Loathing Hunter S. Thompson defines the true defin

    Fear and Loathing




    Hunter S. Thompson defines the true definition of drug induced fear and paranoia in his 204 page long “gonzo journalism” novel entitled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This wicked drug induced haze pushes the limits from cover to cover while solidifying  and taking Thompson’s “gonzo journalism” style of writing to a whole new level. The book itself , riddled with controversially horrific pictures,  displays the culture of the 1960s from a perspective never before seen. This novel was published after Thompson’s novel, Hell’s Angels, and did not disappoint the expecting fans. The Crawford Wood’s quote from the New York Times defines the novel as "a custom-crafted study of paranoia..” . This being one of the first positive reviews of Thompson’s novel; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas become the benchmark in American literature it is today.
    The novel begins as Hunter S. Thompson, disguised as the journalist Raoul Duke, recovers from a hallucinogenic trip as he speeds towards the “American Dream” that awaits him and Dr. Gonzo, his attorney and counterpart. Raoul is assigned the task to report a famous motorcycle race, centered in Las Vegas. His path is quickly altered by his “kit” of recreational drugs that shockingly transforms the focus of the novel  into an insane ride of trips, fear, and loathing. During which they dangerously explore the “ins and outs” of 1970’s American culture. This acts as Raoul and his attorney’s attempt to free themselves from the reality and hardships of man.
    Thompson is purposely elusive on proclaiming the identities of the protagonists of the novel. The main character, Raoul Duke, is believed to be a disguise for Thompson, and his attorney. Dr. Gonzo, is referred to as “my attorney” throughout the novel while only revealing his name on sparing occasions. Raoul is both the main character and the narrator of many of Thompson’s books. He is depicted as a distrusting character whose daily life consists of constant intoxication and drug abuse, he portrayals Hunter Thompson’s alter-ego. However, Raoul is nothing without Dr. Gonzo, “Raoul Duke without Dr. Gonzo is unthinkable” , he serves as the ever necessary companion to Raoul.
    Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo begin their journey into “the belly of the beast” on their way to the Mint 400 motorcycle race in which they are assumed to report on the events of the race. The pair soon become deranged and vear from their intended path, illegally acquiring all their possessions and soon trashing the better of them. Their possessions include their red Convertible, hotel room, drugs and money; all conned off numerous oblivious Americans. Through the occurrence of these events the two become massively demented, and after surviving massive waves of paranoia they add to their growing list of felonies by illegally acquiring a room at the hotel known as the “Flamingo”. Procuring a new white Convertible as they attend the “National District Attorneys Association's Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs“. Pushing their demented adventures to a close, the two narrowly escape numerous accusations and Dr. Gonzo catches a flight out of Las Vegas, soon followed by Raoul Duke. When he finally arrives in Denver, he continues his daily use of drugs and alcohol when finally arriving in Denver.
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas held my attention from cover to cover as the grotesque and vulgar story unfolded. The culture of the 1970s is represented perfectly as Thompson informs the reader of the political standpoints of America at the time. The average American male is flawlessly depicted , through Thompson’s imitation of the ever growing ignorance in the society at the time. Thompson’s critique of the government through the representation of the police department presents us with evidence of the many ways in which the American government and legal system is flawed. Thompson refers to police officers as “swine” several times throughout the novel and explains the flaws of “the system”  through his narrative tangents. Including a portion narrated by Raoul Duke where his neighbor is sent to jail on the basis of nothing, and how poorly he was treated. The only aspect of the novel that some may see as a flaw is the lack of a clear narrative and constant hallucinations that leaves the reader unclear as to whether what is happening is real or only imagined. Although, this applies to Thompson's style of writing and made this extraordinary stunning novel ever more enjoyable.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    My favorite book of his...

    Such a wild tale all told as if were true, which if you know anything about Hunter S. Thompson you can believe every twisted detail. Movie was also awesome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Not for everyone.

    I had heard a lot about this book and decided to finally read it. I can appreciate the author's imagination and creativity in writing this book, but I did not find it interesting. At times I kept asking myself how did they end up here now? Not for everyone.

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  • Posted July 6, 2013

    It was a one week road trip and Thompson packed two bags of gras

    It was a one week road trip and Thompson packed two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-coloured uppers, downers, screamers, laughers and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of Rae ether and two dozen amyls. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    I

    I

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  • Posted April 11, 2013

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas By Hunter S. Thompson 4 Stars T

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas By Hunter S. Thompson

    4 Stars

    This was not on my to read list this month but my son wanted to watch the movie so I had to step it up. I did watch the movie directly following and found it to stay fairly true to the book.

    I thought I would have a difficult time getting throught this given that I had heard stream of conscienceness in reference to the book. I do not do well with those. However Ulysses this is not so I sped right through the short 200 pages.

    The novel unfolds in the deserts on some amazingly wild rides. Roaul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo speed throught the deserts picking up stray hitch hikers and avoiding many other, "hazards" on their trip, many self-induced. They have a cache of every major illegal drug they can get their hands on. They are in search of, "The American Dream" does it exist in these times? These times being the 1960's and beginning of 1970's. It must somewhere and they are going to find it but first, pass the ether would ya?

    Gonzo Journalism is a term penned by Hunter S. Thompson and is used in this novel. The melding of fiction and fact. The character Roaul Duke calls himself a doctor of journalism and his lawyer is Dr. Gonzo. Did Mr. Thompson go on a trip to cover the Mint 400 with his lawyer, yes indeed he did. Was there a drug fueled, hallucination filled, hotel room destroying good time had? Maybe, that is an argument for the ages.

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  • Posted July 27, 2012

    Is this a classic yet?

    I discovered this book in 1974 when I was in tenth grade, and while it did not change my life, it changed how I wrote--for the worse. In spite of that, and in spite of all the wannabe Thompson clones, this is still a classic book.

    Thompson and Tom Wolfe are credit with the "New Journalism" but Thompson was the one, in my mind, who warped the genre into something worth trying to emulate. As a kid, this was drug porn. Rereading as an adult I found it goes much further, and is much darker than I realized. This is not a druggies dream, it is a nightmare, and as such stands as a classic.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    sheer brilliance. maddeningly funny. a must read for those who c

    sheer brilliance. maddeningly funny. a must read for those who crave the counterculture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    A classic

    I'd worn out my perback copy. Had to get it on my nook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    Twisted and entertaining

    I am a fan of Hunter S. Thompson and loved the movie Fear and Loathing. This book brought me into the acid craze and mescaline binge.
    He writes poetically even under the influence of multiple layers of illicit drugs.

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  • Posted March 7, 2012

    Good Stuff.

    Hunter S. Thompson's autobiographical story is so insane by today's standards that it is difficult to even imagine as a novel, much less be a piece of non-fiction work.

    Thompson's initial intentions of traveling to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race become only a side-story for the extreme adventures he and his "attorney" find themselves on with the help of a mix of drugs and heavy alcohol. Narrow escapes from the law and hotel managers only seem to fuel Thompson's desire to push his body's limits.

    Fear and Loathing's writing style reads somewhat like a conversation, as Thompson was able to write down his memories in a way that made them very true to the era. There is no shortage of 60's and 70's terminology, as well as references to many famous musicians and pop icons of the time.

    There are only two characters whose personalities are fully developed. Raoul Duke (Thompson's rendering of himself), and Dr. Gonzo, Duke's wing-man and attorney. Because of this, by the end of the book, I felt like I had a legitimate understanding of both men. Despite their recklessness, I found something to be admired. Duke and Gonzo are both full of an energy and passion for life that, it could be argued, could only be found in the youth of the 60's.

    The experimentation was, without argument, overboard; but that is to be expected when a generation comes along that is not content to see their lives pass without any mark of change in the pages of history.

    In telling his story, Hunter S. Thompson has, to some degree, been able to keep this generation alive, inspiring the youth of today to never accept things as they are without thought or consideration.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    Cheyenne

    Okey

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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