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on 10 January 2007
I enjoyed this book. Ralph Steadman had spent a good deal of time with Hunter Thompson and it shows in his detailed, funny and numerous anecdotes.

Steadman was there at arguably the birth of Gonzo journalism, the Kentucky Derby, although he was not Thompsons first choice illustrator, as he himself points out. This episode is given emphasis in the book, as is the period surrounding their major collaboration 'The Curse of Lono'. The book covers a many events and times, these men were friends for decades. There are letters and faxes from Thompson printed verbatim. These obviously have never been published before and are insightful and in places, very funny.

Steadman is not a professional writer and in places it shows. He is however, intelligent, observant and he possesses a wicked sense of humour and at times a very caustic wit. He also pulls no punches, this is not a sycophantic homage to Thompson. At times it feels like an open letter to his deceased friend, it is a worthwhile read.
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on 7 October 2015
Ralph Steadman's savage pictures complemented Hunter S Thompson's angry writing like coke and champagne. The story of their peculiar friendship is just as fascinating as you might expect. HST was a very private man in spite of his apparent openness about his pharma-fueled life and persona. Ultimately, and too late, he realised that his dazzling style as a writer and as a personality was a huge bear trap from which there was no escape.
Ralph Steadman is one of the few who truly penetrated the fortified compound which literally and metaphorically surrounded HST. To stand by HST as a longtime friend meant having to endure a torrent of insults 90% HST style. HST could not drop his guard entirely even to his closest confederates.
This book is about as close as anyone is going to get to the 'real' HST. Res ipsa loquitur.
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on 5 July 2015
Ralph did a fantastic job chronicling his times with HST. He becomes a true Gonzo writer as the memoir continues. A wonderful achievement, and I doubt HST could ever draw as well as Ralph for all their time together. Mr. Steadman, I regret not buying your prints when I had the opportunity to do so years ago.. and I thank you for all your good works.
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on 10 November 2007
I enjoyed this book and found Ralph Steadman's account of his friendship with HST refreshingly humouress and open. It does not reveal deep insights into what made HST tick, but shows us what it was like to work with him and be his friend too. His friendship to Steadman is captured in his advice when Steadman's son was going a little off the rails.

All in all an easy and entertaining read accompanied of course by Steadman's wonderful illustrations.
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on 9 October 2015
Hunter S. Thompson was a one-hit wonder. His success with Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas earned him a ticket on the ride of being a court jester to the Rich & Famous, and he took it. The priority to continue to write great novels came second to the priority of hobnobbing with movie & music stars, and third to writing money-scheming letters.

As much as I like Ralph Steadman's illustrations, they have had absolutely ZERO influence on how or why I enjoy Thompson's classic Vegas book (and some of his letters). I am thoroughly confident Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas would've sold just as many copies without Steadman's illustrations. The writing in no way, shape, or form depends on the illustrations. At best, the illustrations are some sort of after-thought graffiti.

I am shocked by some of the reviewers who criticize Steadman's writing in this book. I think it reads easy and was written well. The history of the first five years of their partnership reads almost as gonzo and fun as the great Vegas book itself. I really liked it.

I don't think HST ever seriously meant any TRUE hostility in most if not all of his letters to ANYONE. I think they were both written and sent with cackling laughter. It's an American thing. Mock hostility. Using sledgehammer words when softer words are expected. It's a kind of insulting humour spawned by the likes of Don Rickles. I was bemused by Steadman's hurt replies to HST. At first I thought they were just his way of playing along with the game...but by the end of the book I wasn't so sure.

I think Hunter always had a bad boy steak in him and he always wanted to see how far he could push things---how far he could get away with behaving and writing letters like a BEAST. I think Ralph Steadman drew like a BEAST. In person he is supposedly a mild mannered gentleman, but he obviously has something sick & twisted as a BEAST inside him in order to be able to create those horribly fascinating drawings. He and Hunter were perfectly matched, and yet neither really needed the other to become a success. Steadman would've eventually made a name for himself without Hunter. No doubt about it.

I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed all the personal photos and faxes and letters. I expected opinions & anecdotes from Steadman about his time & interactions with Hunter and that's what I got. What else can the guy possibly tell you? Add his anecdotes to those of others and you will conclude that what made Hunter S. Thompson "tick" was tied into his infantile need to be a show-off and the centre of attention---at any cost.
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on 22 April 2009
I received this book as a present. I'm pleased I didn't spend my own money on it as I found it a very hard read. No doubt Steadman's experiences with Hunter Thompson were varied and noteworthy. However the style of writing in this book makes some of the events very difficult to follow. Some sections seem to be random thoughts just plucked out of his mind and thrown on to the page without consideration for how it will read for the people who were not at the event.

From the 3rd quarter of the book and on, it is more a collection of correspondence than anything else. Personally I found this to be useless and a little boring. Steadman adds little commentary. I would have liked something to back up what was being talked about, especially with the benefit of Steadman's hindsight.

The most interesting parts of this book are where Steadman is describing how their relationship was really love/hate. Most of the hate seems to have come from Thompson's side, at least in this version of events. Steadman eludes to the fact that he felt used by Thompson on several occasions. After finishing I got the impression that Steadman's true feelings towards Thompson remain slightly bottled up and that he has never truly resolved in his own mind how friendly they actually were. Certainly they shared many experiences, but were they out of convenience? That is a question I wanted an answer to.

All in all I was frustrated by this book. I wanted to here more about the relationship and less about the number of times they got drunk or high. That story has been told already. Maybe Steadman couldn't write that story as he just can't remember all of it!
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on 15 July 2015
OK - interesting material but nothing really new about my favourite political/social journalist/commentator.
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on 13 September 2014
Makes Hunter and Ralph real.
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