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Hunter S. Thompson: An Insider's View of Deranged, Depraved, Drugged Out Brilliance


The true believer. The hopeful romantic. The King of Fun. The last honest man. The guy who always bets his heart and knows it's wrong but can't stop himself.— Hunter S. Thompson This book tells the remarkable insider'view of deranged, depraved, drugged out brilliance.
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The true believer. The hopeful romantic. The King of Fun. The last honest man. The guy who always bets his heart and knows it's wrong but can't stop himself.— Hunter S. Thompson This book tells the remarkable insider'view of deranged, depraved, drugged out brilliance.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is by far the most thought-provoking and honest look at the late outlaw journalist…HUNTER S. THOMPSON is the most cohesive and comprehensive text yet to be written and is well worth the hours."—Steve Rosen, "Imagine Hunter Thompson as your landlord . . . as your next door neighbor. Jay Cowan spent several years living just a few yards away from Hunter and lived to tell this tale. With insight and grace, he shows us what Hunter S. Thompson was like off-stage. He also shows how this much-misunderstood man was underestimated as a craftsman. This book brims with madness and affection, not to mention fear and loathing. All gonzo fans will treasure this monumentally entertaining story."—William Mckeen, Author, Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S.Thompson"Just like he loved Hunter, Warren Zevon would have loved this book." —Crystal Zevon
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599219691
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/26/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,366,648
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Cowan, who was caretaker on Hunter S. Thompson's ranch and a trusted friend, has published more than 500 articles in magazines and newspapers from Outside to Sports Illustrated to Newsday. Editor in chief at Aspen Sojourner magazine, he is the recipient of several writing awards.
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Read an Excerpt

An Excerpt There were also occasions when Hunter sent a round or two my way, just across his driveway. It was always very late, or very early, after multiday binges and when women were involved. But the closest he came to actually doing me harm was all in the name of education. . . . One time I had the music on, it was getting into the shank of the evening, and I brought out a new .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol to show him. But I made the mistake of handing it to him loaded, and he proceeded to give me a primer on proper gun handling. . . . “Always clear the chamber before you give it to someone,” which he did, ejecting a bullet, “and pop the clip,” which he also did. “Then you’re not handing some crazy f—er a loaded gun.” He grinned knowingly.
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From quasi Hell’s Angel to counterculture author and gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson led a life of legend. This remarkable book focuses on his most productive (and profligate) period. By a highly regarded author who knew him intimately, it takes us from Thompson’s earliest, improbable success to his gradual, heartbreaking decline.

Jay Cowan, who was caretaker on Thompson’s ranch, paints a sensitive portrait of a man who redefined participatory journalism, who captured the decadence and depravity of an era, and who generally consumed more drugs and alcohol than any other living creature on the planet. In his role as America’s “rock star author,” Thompson was invited to the White House (where he claimed to have snorted coke with presidential aides) and was friends with some of America’s biggest celebrities. A self-professed “lazy hillbilly,” he came to believe that immersing himself totally in a story and even becoming the story himself, and then writing it all in a multiday, deadline-cheating frenzy of drugs and sleeplessness, was the only way to proceed. It had worked for Kerouac, it had worked for Thompson himself with Hell’s Angels, and it meshed perfectly with his desired lifestyle.

Providing extraordinary new insights into the legendary writer’s creative and destructive impulses, Cowan also recounts how his intimacy with Thompson led him into numerous knife-edge situations—whether standing uncomfortable witness to the turmoil of the writer’s various relationships or hoping Thompson was thinking clearly when handling guns.

Featuring previously unpublished color photos,this book provides the most compelling and readable portrait to date of one of America’s most extraordinary personalities.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A must-read for Hunter S. Thompson fans

    To sum up Hunter S. Thompson's character, career and lifestyle would be a daunting task, as he was one of our most eccentric well-loved literary figures of the twentieth century. Yet, Jay Cowan pulls it off, fully understanding the gravity of the undertaking in writing a biography for the author of numerous books and articles, including Fear and Loathing: on the Campaign Trail, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Rum Diary, and columns in the San Francisco Examiner and on

    Add to the undertaking the fact that Thompson is credited with creating a literary genre dubbed gonzo journalism, with Cowan succinctly assessing, "Only a few artists of any kind have ever developed their own genre so successfully with such a stranglehold of originality and talent that they were the only ones thought competent to pull it off and everyone else was just a pretender." If that's not intimidating, what is?

    Ultimately, if anyone could write a credible biography for Hunter S. Thompson, Cowan is a first-class choice. As a friend of Thompson's for over 40 years, a longtime resident of the Aspen area, and someone who even spent a stint living in a cabin on Thompson's property (which Cowan describes as a "psychotic sculpture garden"), he most definitely has the intimate knowledge to reliably deliver a back story.

    Cowan's fluid writing style keeps the reader traveling at an energetic pace throughout the book, as he integrates excerpts from Thompson's letters and published material, as well as perspectives from a wealth of Thompson's friends. The author is skillful at creating vivid portraits of characters and moments, providing a holistic story of a life that hardly lacked inspirational material.

    It seems like a major challenge faced by Cowan was that of creating a work that operates on a readable continuum. Telling Thompson's colorful story in chronological order would perhaps be an impossible feat, and to tell his life story in any organized matter would perhaps be just as taxing. Cowan manages to weave an intricate and intriguing tale, attempting to provide a central focus for each chapter, including that of Thompson's writing process, his prolific letter writing, his friends and lovers and his extracurricular activities (including, but not limited to, extensive drug-use, gun-use and travel). One finds out that it is clearly not easy to untangle each topic from one another, but this book is a successful attempt to bring clarity and depth to such an interesting life. Cowan most definitely does justice to Thompson's legacy, avoiding the simple reduction of his life to "a days-long, deadline-cheating frenzy of drugs and sleeplessness," yet he acknowledges where truth and myth collide.

    Quill says: A must-read for any Hunter S. Thompson fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2009

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