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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Paperback – 7 Sep 1998
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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
‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a scorching epochal sensation. There are only two adjectives authors care about any more -
- and Hunter Thompson has a freehold on both of them’
Top Customer Reviews
is one of my favourite opening lines in literature. Two paragraphs later are the equally brilliant lines:
“I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.”
That whole opening narration sets the tone of chaos and comedy told in a perfect deadpan that defines this book.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a modern classic of American literature and is the cause for untold numbers of irresponsible Vegas road trips.
Published in 1971, it tells the semi-true story of when Hunter S Thompson and Oscar Acosta (renamed here as Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo) went on a drug-fuelled road trip from LA to Vegas where Thompson was commissioned by Sports Illustrated to do a write-up on the Mint 400 motorcycle race in the desert.
The drugs they consume - marijuana, mescaline, all kinds of pills, cocaine, opiates, LSD, ether, and adrenochrome - lead to whacky adventures and surreal hallucinations as the pair barrel through a plotless non-story where they also cover a drug convention full of cops and go in search of The American Dream - or its corpse. Our anti-heroes learn nothing and have no character arcs - and it’s perfect!
I read Fear and Loathing some fifteen years ago when I was a teenager and remember devouring it in one go, laughing the whole time - it instantly became one of my favourite books. Years later, I’m glad to say it still holds up. I wouldn’t say it’s as intoxicating still, but it remains a terrific book and really funny to boot.Read more ›
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'.
I don't see this as an insight into American culture of the sixties and seventies, it is an account of one man's trip to Las Vegas and his behaviour during it.
He, on the one hand, is hardly representative of the American public at large. Whilst he may typify that category of drugged and boozed anarchist so feted by the self-styled and self-nominated underground movement comprising a rebellious student and cop-out adult population mix of the time, ninety-five per cent of America were just getting on with their lives and watching the five per cent on television just like everyone else around the world.
And Las Vegas, for heavens' sake, that's hardly representative of US cities then or now. It is where America allows for all manner of excess to take place thereby alleviating the strain in the pressure cooker that is an otherwise repressed and puritanical society. Those who work and play in Vegas may be everyday Americans but they are in abnormal conditions behaving abnormally, unless you believe we are all animals deep down and given the right conditions we simply revert to our basic instincts. The whole principal of culture is that we have developed beyond that. Hopefully.
Oh, and while I'm here, I have read that Thompson's drug abuse might be seen as a secondary issue as he is only using hallucinatory drugs rather than habit-forming nasties such as heroin or cocaine. Well, that's OK then. Throwing yourself off a building because you think you can fly is a minor problem, unless you're the person flapping their arms. Choking to death on your own vomit is not a problem for the rest of us and it's probably what you should have expected and thereby deserved.Read more ›
Despite the excessive drug use in the book, the tone is refreshing and presents a perspective alternate to the media's usual take on drugs. Thompson doesn't say 'drugs are bad', he dabbles in drugs in such a way that transforms them into his playthings; he is a 'Doctor of Journalism' exploring American culture in the 1970's.
Thompson's often paranoid view of 'American Dream' is communicated with humour in this book. Originally published as a two-part article in Rolling Stone magazine, my advice would be to approach it with an open mind, let Hunter carry you beyond conventional fiction and drop you off wherever he pleases.
If you already know about Hunter S. Thompson read this now, for everybody else this is a valuable experience in alternate storytelling.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ticks a lot of boxes. First 'Gonzo Journalism' novel I've read and it didn't disappoint.Published 5 days ago by Danny Gutmann
Been meaning to read this for ages, great book and very funny ,you are almost a bystander watching this especially after seeing films like Hangover III in Vegas with crazy Leslie... Read morePublished 10 days ago by J. Rogers
When I first read 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas', as a teenager in the late 1970s, I perceived it as a manifesto for hedonism and excess. I also loved it back then. Read morePublished 18 days ago by nigeyb
Typical drug fueled adventure and an entertaining little book that will put you in good spirits. Can't compare it to any of the author's other books but it inspired me to read more... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Kindle Customer
Absolutely superb, kept me gripped from the first page to the last.Published 1 month ago by Milan v.