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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream Paperback – 12 Jul 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Paladin; Reprint edition (12 July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586081321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586081327
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 367,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Heralded as the "best book on the dope decade" by the New York Times Book Review, Hunter S. Thompson's documented drug orgy through Las Vegas would no doubt leave Nancy Reagan blushing and D.A.R.E. (US anti-drugs organisation) founders rethinking their motto. Under the pseudonym of Raoul Duke, Thompson travels with his Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in a souped-up convertible dubbed the "Great Red Shark." In its boot, they hide "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 multicoloured uppers, downers, screamers, laughers ... A quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser [and] a pint of raw ether" which they manage to consume during their short tour.

On assignment from a sports magazine to cover "the fabulous Mint 400"--a free-for-all biker's race in the heart of the Nevada desert--the drug-a-delic duo stumbles through Vegas in hallucinatory hopes of finding the American dream (two truck-stop waitresses tell them it's nearby, but can't remember if it's on the right or the left). They of course never get the story, but they do commit the only sins in Vegas: "burning the locals, abusing the tourists, terrifying the help." For Thompson to remember and pen his experiences with such clarity and wit is nothing short of a miracle; an impressive feat no matter how one feels about the subject matter. A first- rate sensibility twinger, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a pop-culture classic, an icon of an era past and a nugget of pure comedic genius. --Rebekah Warren --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a scorching epochal sensation. There are only two adjectives writers care about any more... "brilliant" and "outrageous"... and Hunter Thompson has a freehold on both of them.' Tom Wolfe 'What goes on in these pages makes Lenny Bruce seem angelic... the whole book boils down to a mad, corrosive prose poetry that picks up where Norman Mailer's An American Dream left off and explores what Tom Wolfe left out.' New York Times

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. F. Wells on 3 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback
I’ve always wondered at the admiration and downright love people whose opinion I respect express for Hunter S. Thompson. Even in my 20s, I thought he epitomized 1970s selfism, and my bias certainly wasn’t going to moderate as I aged. A month ago, I was at a wake for an RAF Squadron Commander who flew at the Battle of Britain and was talking to a couple of attendees. We got on the subject of American writers and both—one in his 30s and one in his 60s--said how much they loved Hunter S. Thompson. I mumbled something about not being a fan and then thought, well, it’s not like I’ve read enough—a handful of Rolling Stone articles—to have an informed opinion. And so I decided after all these years to read his most famous work. I’m happy to say that F&LinLV confirms my prejudices.

There is nothing likeable about Hunter’s alter-ego Raoul Duke and his grotesque Samoan attorney, except as subjects of Ralph Steadman’s superb drawings. Their idea of sticking it to the man is staying high, running up an expense account and trashing hotel rooms, all the while fretting about jail time. They are not defiant outlaws yelling, “Come and get me, copper!” They’re just slimeballs ridiculing easy targets in a town full of them.

It’s not as if Thompson is a great stylist, either. There are passages of excellent prose when he steps out of the spotlight he shines on himself and observes the outside world. Otherwise, it’s straightforward narrative about me-me-me with the odd line that makes you smile and on occasion laugh out loud.

But one thing Thompson is, he’s a very good storyteller. I may not much like his characters or subject matter, but I do like the way he sets his stories up and then unfolds, twists, turns, mutilates, extrudes and interweaves them. It’s actually enough to make me want to read more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Cushion on 18 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
I actually bought this copy for a freind to give as the 'Secret Santa' at work! I have had my own copy for years. Well, what can I say? On the surface, a madcap and very funny adventure for two good ol' boys but beneath, an accurate and insightful commentary on post 1960's America. Thompson captures the spirit of the age perfectly, with of course, the viewpoint of the counterculture. In my opinion, this is HST at his very best; making the incredible, seem credible and even though he describes the craziest of behaviour you cannot fail to take this man very seriously. HST is quite prophetic in his thoughts about where America is going during the 1970's and beyond. The book does tail off mid way through, but picks up again quickly.

The only part of the book that I don't like, is where HST describes his attorney abusing and intimidating a lady who works in a diner on the outskirts of 'Vegas. In my opinion, it was unneccesary and tarnishes the great respect and admiration that I had for both charachters up until that point. Whilst parts of the story are in fact geuinely true, I like to think that this part is fiction as I would hate to think that HST would do nothing in such a circumstance, even whilst high or drunk.

On first reading this book, back in the 1990's, I remember laughing out loud even in public, upon the turn of almost every other page and conversely, I often felt quite sad for HST as he reflects upon the promises and hopes of the 1960's, which by that time were dashed. This is the kind of book that you can keep and cherish forever and I often find myself picking it up and just reading a few paragraphs or pages for inspiration. If you have only enough credit or cash to buy just one book today, buy this.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Birch on 20 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
By far the most intelligent and funny book I've ever read. But it's so much more than that, it captures the polarization of cultures in america at the end of the sixties and many of the observations still ring true today. A brilliant satire, the drawings by Ralph Steadman complement the text wonderfully well.
My favourite quote: 'at one point I tried to drive the Great Red Shark into the laundry room of the Landmark Hotel - but the door was too narrow, and the people inside seemed dangerously excited'.
RIP Hunter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Shillam on 27 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
Drugs, eh? They've done their share of harm I suppose, but, like alcohol, seem intrinsically linked to the world of art. Certainly the sort I like, anyhow. And they don't necessarily have to be on about booze or whatever all the time, a la Bukowski, take Beckett for example. Where would F. Scott Fitzgerald have been without a drink or two? Lou Reed without heroin? And I don't believe for a second that the drug, whatever it is, is actually the catalyst for such people, just that they are of a certain sensibility, sensitivity, even, which requires an anaesthetic of some sort. After all, there are a good many more alcoholics and drug addicts who never made anything but a mess. And a very strange man with a rude shape drawn on his forehead staring through my living room window right now.

What I don't get is how Hunter S. could possibly have taken as much stuff as he claims to have and still remember the events detailed herein. Either he had a superhuman capacity or embroidered somewhat (and just picture him actually embroidering!). But then his work isn't so much merely about 'look how much drugs I took' in the fashion of some rock star hagiography, as a challenge to the Great American Way of Life and the 'value' system it espouses, Las Vegas in all its capitalist monstrousness being the epitome of such, style over content and money over everything. Hell on earth in the middle of the desert, further, a man made desert that nature in all it's raw screaming terror could never have conjured. The most disgusting place known to man and in went Hunter S. and they had the nerve to be shocked. He was the one overdoing things, behaving badly. We will rape and kill and crush and steal and lie but should you dare to speak out of turn and by god but you'll pay.
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