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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Harper Perennial Modern Classics [Illustrated] [Paperback]

Hunter S. Thompson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 April 2005

‘We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive …”’

Hunter S. Thompson is roaring down the desert highway to Las Vegas with his attorney, the Samoan, to find the dark side of the American Dream. Armed with a drug arsenal of stupendous proportions, the duo engage in a surreal succession of chemically enhanced confrontations with casino operators, police officers and assorted Middle Americans.

This stylish reissue of Hunter S. Thompson’s iconic masterpiece, a controversial bestseller when it appeared in 1971, features the brilliant Ralph Steadman illustrations of the original. It brings to a new generation the hallucinatory humour and nightmare terror of Hunter S. Thompson’s musings on the collapse of the American Dream.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Harper Perennial Modern Classics + The Rum Diary (Bloomsbury Classic Reads) + Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (4 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007204493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007204496
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 732 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.


‘There are only two adjectives writers care about…”brilliant” and “outrageous”. Hunter Thompson has a freehold on both of them. “Fear and Loathing” is a scorching epochal sensation.’ 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
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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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THE TICKET, TAKE THE RIDE! 8 May 2006
By D. Hale
...This is Hunter S Thompson's countercultural classic 1973 non-ficition novel. Originally serialised in Rolling Stone and often written under the influence of mind-altering chemicals or booze (which Thompson injected into his chest), "Fear And Loathing..." is a powerful, funny and forceful assault on American culture and values. Ostenibly taking the viewpoint of one Raoul Duke- a thinly disguised HST-, a journalist assigned to covering a a desert race in Las Vegas, the book gives us a brilliant insight into the American culture of 1970s. Many who review the book draw attention to the protagonist's drug abuse, however this really secondary to the book and quite harmless when you consider he uses mainly psychedelics rather than powerful, habit-forming substances like heroin.

Accompained by his obese Samoan attorney- HST's mate and missing Hispanic loon, Oscar Acosta- the book follows Duke's wild adventures in the joyless pleasuredomes of Las Vegas. Duke's real purpose is to search for the American Dream and find it in physical form, he hopes he will achieve this aim in Las Vegas. However, he knows that Las Vegas is a corrupt and filthy place and that the American Dream does not actually exist.

Thompson is a master of bringing absurd comedy out of a situation and his visceral exposures of the stupidity and idiocy of the Las Vegas people and workers are hilarious. He also brilliantly dissects and informs us about the failures of the Nixon administration and the shame and pity of living in the world after the glory of the 1960s.

The influence of Fear and Loathing echoes in the work of numerous journalists and writers- Will Self. Easton Ellis, the fella who wrote Fight Club- who are by comparison mere imitators.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars like a depth charge 19 Mar 2013
An amazingly odd book. The story is more like a list of drugs it's like a diary of two of the worst kind of drug addicts, its drugs, guns and dumb `fun', all rolled up in a car. The social commentary underlying all of this though is a stroke of genius, with the idea of an `American Dream' turning out to be a case of sheer dumb luck and aside from that it isn't even worth pursuing anyway.

The book gave me a strong feeling of `A Clockwork Orange' in the casual way in which the truly unsavoury acts are carried out. A detached feeling that what is quite shocking and abnormal in reality becomes completely normal in the frequency and off hand casual remarks made in the book. The way the book ends also mirrors `A Clockwork Orange' though in a more subtle way.

Well worth a read, oh and play Motorhead in the background to add to the atmosphere.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take a Joy Ride! 28 Aug 2004
By A Customer
There aren't many books that can make me laugh out loud. But this one did. In fact, there were times when I was laughing so hard I couldn't focus my eyes on the page to read. I'd have to stop reading just to compose myself enough to go on. Wild only begins to describe the adventures of Thompson and his lawyer. In all fairness, I should warn you that drinking large amounts of liquor and taking illegal drugs play a big part in the story. If drugs and drug culture easily offend you you may want to pass on this book. My feeling is this: I do not condone drug use but this novel does reflect a period in America's recent past, it is a modern classic, and it's so darned funny that it you really should read it. The story follows Thompson and his lawyer as they search for the real America. On the way, Thompson gets an assignment to cover a motorcycle race in Las Vegas. Armed with a red convertible and enough drugs to kill a VERY large animal, they set off for Vegas. The story is a mixture of reality, drug induced hallucinations, and some fuzzy experiences that are both reality and drug clouded. It's just a flat-out, fun, hilarious romp -- a joy ride of a novel. Don't miss out! Another offbeat novel that I came across recently and enjoyed was THE LOSERS CLUB by Richard Perez.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No more of the speed that fuelled the sixties 4 Sep 2004
By A Customer
There is far more to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" than most people think. It is not "about" drugs. It is not about road trips or any of that rubbish...
It is in fact a modern Gatsby. "The Great Gatsby" is one of the greatest novels of the century, and Thompson was well aware of Fitzgerald's masterpiece. Both novels deal with that particular characteristic of the American mindset summed up in the phrase "the American Dream"... this is characterised by two things: (1) a belief in agency, or the power of the individual to shape his or her own life and (2) a disregard for the past in preference of the future. Jay Gatsby embodied agency in the sense that he invented himself, and he showed his disregard for the past because he spent all his time trying to get Daisy to return to a time before she met Tom. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is just as complex as Gatsby though there isn't space to properly go into it here... But, for starters:
Has anyone else noticed that the first half of the novel is almost exactly the same as the second half? they are structurally identical. the hitch-hiker is replaced by Lucy, one hotel is replaced by another, one car by another, etc. This is not necessarily Thompson's laziness... the past repeating itself is a recurrent theme (is Bush the Nixon of our generation? different?). Thompson is smarter than most people give him credit for and if you want to get anything "solid" from this book then you should try to engage with it on an intelligent level... Thompson's/Duke's actions represent the amazing possibilities which lie at the heart of the American Dream... "but only for those with true grit" ... Thompson makes the seventies a failure of the sixties...
Additional: his recent work may be sub-par (or comparatively so) but buy his volumes of collected letters; they show a man who gets enormous joy from real writing (spending a lot of time getting the words "just so" - this is the mark of a real writer...).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This is a wonderful book, great read and very entertaining. I am very happy with my purchase thank you very much.
Published 4 days ago by Laura Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
This is the first novel I've read by hst, but have been a fan ever since I read the Kentucky derby. This is a truly unprecedented piece of literature that probably shouldn't work... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Lincoln
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and dark depths of drug fuelled depravity
I steer clear of overhyped books, this was made into a film a few years back and so I didn't take an interest. Read more
Published 29 days ago by James Buxey
5.0 out of 5 stars Get high and read this
I haven't taken non prescription drugs, then I read this book and although I still hadn't taken LSD, Heroine, Mescaline or ether I now feel and understanding of how spaced out and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr P
1.0 out of 5 stars Not fear, just loathing of this book
I read this book mainly ∵ I'd encountered pseudish types over the years who'd told me in gushing tones what a masterpiece it was; predictably a masterpiece or excellent - so much... Read more
Published 3 months ago by C.Yates
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunter S Legend.
Brilliant book, also a classic cult film,if your into getting high then this is well worth the read. Couldn't put it down nuff said.
Published 4 months ago by John the bus
4.0 out of 5 stars wanted to read this for a while
Finally got to read this after meaning to for a while.
Great story, well written.
Laugh out loud in places.
Published 4 months ago by stewinBristol
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter nonsense
I admit, I picked up this book with very high expectations. I know it was made into a film (one I've yet to watch), and I know that it is one of those greatly talked about books,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by S. Shamma
Published 6 months ago by TONY BOSS
5.0 out of 5 stars Sucking on the Fictional Pineal Gland
Almost exactly like the film, which I saw before I read the book. This is a very good thing, as both are amazing pieces of art. Congratulations, HST, and rest in pieces.
Published 7 months ago by SJM
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