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Fear and Loathing in America : The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist Paperback – December 4, 2001

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Fear and Loathing in America : The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist + The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Vol. 1) + The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time
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Product Details

  • Series: Gonzo Letters (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (December 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684873168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684873169
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"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)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The earlier volume of Thompson letters, The Proud Highway (1997), surprised many readers with its revealing glimpses into the making of a notorious journalist; moreover, those letters did not disappoint for they are as audacious as their author. With this second of a planned three-volume set of letters, the original gonzo journalist's "testament to his life and times" covers the period in which Thompson's seminal pieces were published or, at least, well into the making. During this period, Thompson was reporting on the political scene for Rolling Stone , which would yield his highly original road book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972); falling deeper into politics and increasing his knowledge of that world, which he pulled together for Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ; and running his own crazy political race for sheriff in Aspen, Colorado, where, as publicity has it, he still lives in a "fortified compound" (shades of Garry Trudeau's Duke in his Doonesbury comic strip; incidentally, readers discover letters here, too, that reveal that at one point Thompson considered suing Trudeau for libel). Often the correspondence is so eventful that it impresses one as being fictitious, as with the letters between Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta, the Chicano activist/lawyer and model for Thompson's 300-pound Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in Las Vegas . And then there are the painful letters between writer and publisher, particularly Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone and Jim Silberman of Random House, that trace the hard road many original writers travel to merely survive. The cast of characters is impressive, politicians such as Gary Hart and George McGovern, friends and colleagues such as cartoonist Ralph Steadman and writer William Kennedy. Summarily, Hunter's life and times are our life and times, and, oh, how wicked we've been. Bonnie Smothers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is a great book published by hunter s thompson.
My wife is a newly published writer, and we have found this collection of letters the only thing to read on the (book tour) road.
David Fisher
The only weak point of this book is the poor footnotes.
Christopher C. Cole

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Monkey Knuckle Asteroid on November 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Considering there are at least 5 biographies floating around about Hunter S. Thompson, and he doesn't seem the type to write an autobiography, this is the closest thing we will ever get. Picking up where Volume I left off, Fear and Loathing in America is a complete reversal of fortune from its predecessor.
Whereas Volume I documented the lament and poverty of Thompson as a young, struggling writer, dealing with the rigors of hustling a career in journalism or literature without working a "real job"--this volume covers Thompson in his shining glory years. Fresh off the success of Hells Angels, he conquers with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. Not only that, but it covers everything in-between, providing a much-needed counterpoint to the extreme surreal elements of his gonzo journalism, showing us the facts that exists outside the books and the articles.
Thompson almost always portrays himself as the smirking, all-knowing, invulnerable watcher of things. Even when writing from his own point of view, he becomes the omniscient narrator and the cruel god watching over the world he is describing. Very rarely does he get really personal and revealing in his writing, nor does he need to.
This volume is filled with personal correspondence, journalistic entries about Thompson's life and times. And his writing here is just as solid as it is in any of his books. His ability to bend language and make it bark and snarl at the end of his leash is what makes Thompson an irreplacable American writer, and a perfect vehicle to have documented the turbulence of the last 4 decades. This volume of letters is the perfect companion to the flash and bang of his books, giving us an altogether different point of view of Thompson's life and lets us make our own conclusions about how much life imitates art and helps us realize that it works the other way 'round as well.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Clare Quilty on March 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Two of my favorite contemporary writers have died unexpectedly in the past few months - the Mississippi writer Larry Brown and, more recently, Hunter S. Thompson, who committed suicide on Feb. 20.

Both were deaths that affected me greatly. Usually when I hear of a notable passing, my reaction is, "Oh, no," but in both of these cases my first thought was to hope that the news wasn't true.

In the days following Thompson's death, I found myself going over some of his work - a documentary on the Criterion "Fear & Loathing" DVD, "The Great Shark Hunt" and "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas."

But the book that I found myself reading the most, and finding a kind of solace in, is this one: Thompson's collected letters from 1968-76.

I used to work in a bookstore and there was always a question of where "Las Vegas" belonged. It obviously wasn't fiction but it also couldn't be entirely true, and that's part of its genius. But with "The Gonzo Letters, Volume II" there is no doubt that this is the genuine article, this is probably the closest look we'll get at what Thompson was like. The sheer fact that he wrote and saved so many letters in the first place tells you a lot about the man himself.

The correspondence here runs the gamut: letters to Oscar Acosta, Tom Wolfe, Charles Kuralt, William Kennedy, Jann Wenner, his brother, his mother, his broker and anybody he had a beef with. The letters take us through his early ups and downs, his campaign for sheriff of Pitkin County and we not only get to follow him through the success of "Las Vegas," but also part of the process of him refining surrealism and colorful exaggeration into the style he'd use in that book.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Christian Hunter on January 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
...'course you'll have to work for it. This is a massive book that in my opinion isn't meant to be plowed through, but rather enjoyed from time to time.
A complition of his letters written over a decade or so (during his rise from a relatively obscure journalist/writer to cult hero) most every letter is interesting in one way or another, some are so funny that you'll be laughing about them for days.
HST's humor is unmatched in my opinion by any writer I've read. This book is an extraordinarily private, very insightful, often hilarious glimpse into one of America's most interesting social figures.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G. J. Gurevich on January 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ordinarily, I wouldn't think letters would be that interesting. But Thomson's style and sense of humor are so outrageous, I find myself laughing out loud every few pages or so.

But it's much more than humor. The letters overlap the period of Martin Luther King's Assassination, Robert F. Kennedy's Assassination, the Democratic National Convention of 1968 (which he attended), etc.

I was struck at how he tried to convince his younger brother to stay in college for at least another semester, because by then, we would probably be out of Vietnam. It was apparent to him at the time that we would leave. And yet...Saigon didn't fall until April 1975.

He also has a particular revulsion for Nixon, who has always been a fascinating figure for me. And of course,there are letters to his fans. He clearly has fear and loathing for some of them. His letters to and about them are hillarious.

A great read.
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