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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 4, 2012
There are certain books that help define the tumultuous era between JFK's election and Nixon's resignation. Fear and Loathing can included in a list with The Best and the Brightest, Armies of the Night, Nixon Agonistes and All the President's Men. Just as importantly, each of these writers - Halberstam, Thompson, Mailer and Wills - infused their texts with a writing style that matched in virtuosity the events being covered.

Gonzo Journalism was well suited to a sixties journey to Vegas but is even more illuminating covering the 1972 election. Thompson is insightful enough to read the political currents of the campaigns and conventions while lending his own brand of craziness to an epoch of American electioneering that makes our rabid era look placid in comparison. He can start with an interesting observation such as: "Hubert (Humphrey) seems genuinely puzzled by the fast-rising tide of evidence that many once-sympathetic voters no longer believe anything he says." The author later stretches a bit to say that "Sending Muskie against Nixon would have been like sending a three-toed sloth out to seize turf from a wolverine." Soon, Thompson is describing Muskie's emotional collapse over the "Canuck letter" through a fantasy in which an Ibogaine induced candidate imagines that gila monsters are attacking his legs as he speaks from a train. The beauty of the text is that somehow, Thompson's nightmare version seems more real than what actually occurred.

Not to be overlooked are Englishman Ralph Steadman's wonderful and embittered illustrations such as Nixon waving to supporters behind a police line. The book also includes a host of well chosen photos which stretch our vision of the era: Gary Hart planning with Warren Beatty; Sam Yorty waving from his touring bus; a CREEP button which reads "Acid, Amnesty, Appeasement: Vote McGovern;" Sammy Davis Jr's famous man hug of Nixon; and a shot of Thompson writing in sun glasses with 2 Miller High Lifes in front of him. The best photo of all catches McGovern's expression of visceral disappointment on the way to a press conference to announce that his new running mate had a history of (you can't make this stuff up) electric shock treatments.

Thompson admits his biases and argues that no writer can transcend his/her own preconceptions: "With the possible exception of box scores, race results and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms." Given his bias, however, Doctor Gonzo demonstrates, at times, an unequaled eye and unsparing observations. On the counter-culture: "The importance of Liking Yourself is a notion that fell heavily out of favor during the coptic, anti-ego frenzy of the Acid Era - but nobody guessed, back then, that the experiment might churn up this kind of hangover: a whole subculture of frightened illiterates with no faith in anything." On the 1968 Democratic nominee: "Hubert Humphrey is a treacherous, gutless old ward-heeler who should be put in a goddamn bottle and sent out with the Japanese current." On Ed Muskie's doomed campaign: "He talked like a farmer with terminal cancer trying to borrow money on next year's crop." On the appeal of the candidate from Alabama: "George Wallace is one of the worst charlatans in politics but there is no denying his talent for converting frustration into energy." On blind ambition: "A career politician finally smelling the White House is not much different at all from a bull elk in rut." On message discipline: "If God himself had showed up in Miami and denounced Nixon from the podium, hired gunsels from the Committee for the Re-Election of the President would have quickly had him arrested for disturbing the peace."

Fear and Loathing may no longer be topical in its 40th year edition but it remains as insightful, controversial and often hilarious political reporting. Thompson was not just the drug-crazed reporter made infamous by Johnny Depp. He is also one of the pioneering journalists of the last half of the 20th century and this book is by far his finest and most serious effort.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2012
Now 40 years old, this book remains the definitive work of campaign-following gonzo journalism. Often imitated, never duplicated. Here in 2012, after an election chock full of what seemed like some of the worst bad craziness associated with a campaign in recent memory, it's both reassuring and a bit frightening to see just how little has changed in American politics in the last 40 years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2013
Hunter S Thompson may or may not have been trendy since he began being famous back in the 1960s. Who knows? I'm only old enough to know that he has always been linked to Gonzo journalism and being a bit of a character. That being said, this book is a very interesting take on the 1972 campaign for President.

You get a lot of the main characters and the narrative plays out against the backdrop of Watergate. Knowing how the story plays out over the next several years, there is still tension to the stories because you want to jump into the middle of the book and scream at all of the people involved: "Wait! Can't you see that Nixon is a devious crook! Don't you know that Nixon is going to bring the country to its knees in scandal?"

That being said, I should note that I read the book during the middle of the 2012 election. In reading the account of the 1972 election, I find myself wondering what Hunter might have had to say about Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Not to mention what he might have said about Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and any of the other cast of characters that make up what passes for political dialogue in 2012 or 2013 for that matter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2013
Not only a great read about politics and journalism in the 70es, but also very insightful for those who are following the current political situation in the US. This was after all the time when the two parties essentially set the course they're still on today... except the GOP being even more right today than even Goldwater could have imagined. And keep in mind that most big-name US politicians (most of them being between 50 and 70 years) probably either were already active in that time or just started getting interested in politics.
Also, Hunter's writing and insight is nothing short of brilliant most of the time - even when he's rambling, incoherent or just making stuff up about politicians' drug use, he's better than most of the rest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2013
I'm 23 years old, unable to relate to any of the primary discussion here. That being said, this book is a tremendously good read, hard to explain how a book written about the campaign trail of a campaign held 18 years before my birth could be a page turner, but that in itself is the main praise. Hunter writes in a way that the everyday cynic can enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2013
Any chronicle of the the life pursuits of Peter Sheridan is mandatory for the happiness of the friends he left behind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon August 14, 2012
For anyone who enjoys following politics and political journalism, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72 is the Holy Grail. The book culls together articles Dr. Thompson filed from the road for Rolling Stone. The immediacy and genuine feel the articles conveys puts you right on the trail with all the various characters from the '72 Presidential race. It is less the Gonzo journalism of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and his other works of that era but more of a personal and thoughtful look at the path the country was going down. The 40th anniversary edition contains a new foreword written by current Rolling Stone politico Matt Taibbi. Mr. Taibbi is a worthy successor to Dr. Thompson, but the foreword is really not much more than a pointing out of the obvious debt that he and most current political writers owe to this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
I voted for McGovern back in the days when I was young & idealist! It was fascinating to read about the behind-the-scenes stuff. Also, I love Dr. Thompson's writing--especially his earlier stuff--like this. He was a pip!
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on September 25, 2014
I am a very big fan of Hunter S. Thompson, and have read both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hell's Angels.

I really enjoy the way he writes. His style is nowadays so often imitated- but NEVER equaled.

--Now, first a Warning--
If your only other experience with the late Dr Thompson is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and you got into all of the mindless drug fueled debauchery in that, well I have bad news:

F&L on the Campaign Trail is NOT that at all, so if that's what you are expecting then you might be disappointed. Instead, read Hell's Angels first. It still has the sex and violence, but it reads more like real journalism than someone narrating an orgy. That will at least prepare you for what to expect in Campaign Trail '72.

If you are into politics at all, this is a MUST read. HST really goes into all of the intricacies of the electoral process, but does so with such flair and style that it never becomes dry.

My personal favorite Thompson book is Hells Angels, but I'd have to say this one comes in a close second.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I've long considered Thompson an addled, overrated buffoon, all sound and fury, signifying nothing. But this book has prompted a reconsideration. The prose is lucid and energetic, and the world it depicts fascinates. Even those who don't share Hunter's views - or find the Dr. "Jesus Creeping S__t!" Gonzo persona wears thin after a while, can still appreciate the hard cold light he shines on the daily life of a political campaign, the human drama of winning losing, punching, pulling punches, and grinding out the votes. It's worth the read, and unlike a lot of books about politics, worth the reread.
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