Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson

by Kristopher Cook
Time to Read: 2 minutes

Hmm… How do you go about describing a writer such as Hunter S. Thompson? ‘The Godfather of Gonzo’, Thompson hit the mainstream media thanks to his publications in Rolling Stone magazine during the 1970s.

When asked to cover the 1971 Kentucky Derby in Louisville Kentucky, Hunter S. Thompson and his attorney Oscar Acosta, who was heavily satirised as ‘Dr. Gonzo’, decide to take matters into their own hands.

Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide in 2005 with his beloved shotgun.

Hunter S Thompson - Typewriter - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Book Review

Synopsis

Based around autobiographical events, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas follows Raoul Duke, and his attorney Dr Gonzo, as they travel through the Las Vegas desert chasing the American Dream.

Too weird to live, too rare to die!

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Throughout their drug-induced hallucinations, ramblings and general altercations with the law, they become swept up in a race against time to document the Kentucky Derby, which they fail to do on all counts.

Thompson’s use of subjective descriptions and seedy nature help to make this one of his most famous piece of journalism, composing of both fact and fiction. This became a crucial part of the start of the Gonzo Movement.

Just a Rolling Stone

In November 1971, Rolling Stone published both parts of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, each featuring in separate editions of the magazine.

1971 Rolling Stone Cover featuring  
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
1971 Rolling Stone Cover featuring
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Anyone who’s read this book will see why Thompson has such a cult following, and I don’t mean that as a backhanded compliment.

He speaks from the heart about topics which were often shied away from; Politics, Drugs, Alcoholism and Consumerism.

Thompson is an incredibly fun writer with such an easy-to-read style. As his gonzo journalist eye passes over everything, I became entranced by his sense of humour, his erratic metaphors and most of all, his disregard for judgement (by either himself or his readers).

Due to the loose plot, it’s easy to see why some are not are a fan of the book, but don’t let that put you off.

This truly is a unique read.

Closing Thoughts

I’d only heard rumblings of how good Thompson’s writing was before reading and I have to say I’m now a member of his ever-growing cult-club.

His writing is sharp, dynamic and often witty while remaining dark and surrealist. Must be all the drugs!

At points, the story trails off into cul-de-sacs but in its defence, it quickly reverses out and sidespins down the next highway doing double the limit.

What did you think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? A diamond in the rough or over-hyped bile? Leave your comments below.

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