Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist 1968-1976

Hunter S. Thompson, Author, Douglas G. Brinkley, Editor, David Halberstam, Foreword by
Hunter S. Thompson, Author, Douglas G. Brinkley, Editor, David Halberstam, Foreword by Simon & Schuster $30 (784p) ISBN 978-0-684-87315-2
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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""The years that were covered in these letters,"" says Thompson, ""were like riding on a bullet train... with no sleep and no wires to hang on to."" Apparently he hung onto his typewriter, though, churning out not only his drugged-up, wigged-out road book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and similarly outrageous articles for Rolling Stone but also for letter after lengthy letter, in the same white-hot, turbo-charged style. Thompson altered permanently the nature of political journalism by injecting into his reportage the personal and the pathological, and this second volume of letters reads like rehearsals for his more public utterances, almost every page ringing with the sound of gunfire, revving motorcycle engines and partying that began at a level where most partying ends. What may surprise readers is the sweetness of much of the writing. While Thompson's correspondents include a virtual who's who of the era, from Tom Wolfe and Kurt Vonnegut to Jimmy Carter and George McGovern, he wrote to his fans like a kind if slightly deranged uncle, trying to convince one not to join the Hell's Angels, offering a second help with her term paper. Despite the occasional lollipop, however, Thompson's strong suit is still invective, of which he remains the unsurpassed master. It's been 30 years since his series of sulfurous missives to a local Colorado TV station for showing only ""the cheapest, meanest swill"" and to mail-order companies that dared send the journalist from hell what he deemed shabby merchandise, but surely Thompson's name still provokes shudders at the Alaska Sleeping Bag Company and elsewhere. B&w photos. (Dec. 13)
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