Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson

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Overview

When Hunter S. Thompson was on, there was no one better at capturing who Americans were and what America was, be it in politics, at the Kentucky Derby, or in the Hells Angels' lair. William McKeen became friends with Thompson after writing a monograph on his journalism. McKeen now has interviewed many of Thompson's associates who wouldn't speak before, from childhood friends to colleagues, to assistants who sat around the Woody Creek, Colorado, kitchen control room late at night when Thompson did most of his ...
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Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson

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Overview

When Hunter S. Thompson was on, there was no one better at capturing who Americans were and what America was, be it in politics, at the Kentucky Derby, or in the Hells Angels' lair. William McKeen became friends with Thompson after writing a monograph on his journalism. McKeen now has interviewed many of Thompson's associates who wouldn't speak before, from childhood friends to colleagues, to assistants who sat around the Woody Creek, Colorado, kitchen control room late at night when Thompson did most of his work. McKeen gets behind the drinking and drugs to show the man and the writer - one who was happy to be considered an outlaw but took the calling of journalism as his life.
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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
A professor of journalism at the University of Florida, [McKeen] is susceptible to moments of Hunter-worship…but manages to tell Thompson's story in a straightforward way. Certainly, he gets it all in: the boozing and drugging, the histrionics, the womanizing, the violence, but also the intelligence, the loyalty, the inherent decency. Over the long haul, Thompson won't be much more than a footnote in American literary history, but in his day he set off plenty of explosions, and he was a lot of fun to watch. At his best, he was even more fun to read.
—The Washington Post
Kirkus Reviews
McKeen (Journalism/Univ. of Florida; Highway 61: A Father-and-Son Journey Through the Middle of America, 2003) resurrects the Good Doctor with a solid treatment of his life and work. Since Thompson's suicide more than three years ago, there have been countless memorials and appraisals of his career, including longtime artistic collaborator Ralph Steadman's meandering The Joke's Over (2006). McKeen stays on task, maintaining a well-paced narrative as he works his way through Thompson's life, the details of which are by now quite well-known: athletics-filled but troublemaking childhood in Louisville ("I look back on my youth with great fondness," the author once wrote, "but I would not recommend it as a working model for others"); brief stint in the Air Force; frequent rejections of his first two novels, Prince Jellyfish and The Rum Diary (which was eventually published in 1998); long, up-and-down relationship with the editors at Playboy and Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone; redemptive success with Hell's Angels (1966) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972); increasingly erratic behavior, embodied by his alter-ego, Raoul Duke, and spurred on by his relationship with Mexican-American activist and attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta; seclusion on his ranch in Woody Creek, Colo.; calculated suicide in 2005. Thompson's unrivaled substance abuse and explosive personality were the stuff of legend, but McKeen, employing readable, lively prose, does a fine job excavating other aspects of his character, digging deeper than most of his previous biographers to reveal a vital component of Thompson's genius: "Part of Hunter's art was collecting the right people, putting them all together, and seeing whathappened." Carefully avoiding hagiography, however, the author gamely explores the darker side of Thompson's nature as well. Throughout, Thompson's slavish devotion to his search for the American Dream provides the narrative's binding thread: "The Dream obsessed him . . . but what was it? Was it Horatio Alger, rags to riches, the idea that you could start with nothing and end up rolling naked in stacks of hundreds? Or was it a dream of freedom? Personal freedom . . . or the concept of freedom that the founders brought into the world?"A welcome addition to the Gonzo library and one of the best starting points for HST novices-at least until Douglas Brinkley decides to publish his eagerly awaited version of events. Agent: Jane Dystel/Dystel & Goderich Literary Management
Louisville Courier-Journal
“A definitive biography. . . . [McKeen] presents the life of this gifted yet troubled artist, warts and all, and he also takes the full measure of Thompson’s journalistic accomplishment . . . a comprehensive portrait.”
New York Observer
“The best record to date of Thompson’s life.”
Miami Herald
“Essential.”
Greg Palast
“Read it or die.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393061925
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

William McKeen is the author of Highway 61 and editor of Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay. A journalism professor at the University of Florida, he lives with his family near Wacahoota, Florida.

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Table of Contents

Preface: The End

Ch. 1 Getting Away With It 1

Ch. 2 Square Peg, Round Hole 21

Ch. 3 The Dark Thumb of Fate 36

Ch. 4 A Natural Ingrate 54

Ch. 5 Observer 70

Ch. 6 Stranger in a Strange Land 83

Ch. 7 Among the Angels 96

Ch. 8 American Dream 113

Ch. 9 Epiphany 127

Ch. 10 Freak Power 150

Ch. 11 Making a Beast of Himself 163

Ch. 12 Truth Is Never Told in Daylight 178

Ch. 13 Celebrity 202

Ch. 14 Casualties of War 233

Ch. 15 Thompson's Island 254

Ch. 16 The Genetic Miracle 279

Ch. 17 Homecoming 310

Ch. 18 Man of Letters 332

Epilogue 352

Notes 367

Bibliography 399

Author's Note 405

Index 411

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2012

    Whats there to say thats not in this book about HST?!?!?

    HST Lives on in this book!!!

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  • Posted October 19, 2008

    A MUST READ FOR HUNTER S. THOMPSON FANS

    This a great bio of the most revolutionary journalist of our times. William McKeen gives a fair but honest portrayal of his life, using passages from some of his works. It was the first biographical read for me that I was unable to put down. After I finished, it was hard for me to get Hunter out of my mind. It was a feeling not unlike seeing a movie that stays with you. I've already bought an extra copy as a gift.

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