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The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, and the New Journalism Revolution Hardcover – November 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (November 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400049148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400049141
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Today, it's routine for writers to go undercover to get a story; precedent for such experiential reportage really took off in the 1960s. It took outside-the-box reporters like Hunter S. Thompson to ride with the Hell's Angels, or Tom Wolfe to drop acid with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, or John Sack and Michael Herr to go to Vietnam with the grunts to tell it like it really was. This "New Journalism," described as "journalism that reads like fiction and rings with the truth of reported fact," started a revolution in the publishing world, reviving old magazines (Esquire) and inventing new ones (Rolling Stone; New York). Freelance journalist Weingarten tells this story in loosely chronological fashion, pausing to highlight key writers (Thompson, Wolfe, Mailer, Didion, Breslin) and editors (particularly Clay Felker) who developed the genre, right up to the end of the party in 1977, when Rupert Murdoch engineered his takeover of New York. Bottom line trumped byline, although, as Weingarten emphasizes, great "immersive" reporting remains popular, not just in newspapers, but throughout the media. Weingarten's interviews with key players give his account energy and authenticity; he's far from gonzo, but this is still a good read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Weingarten captures the verve--and the nerve--it took to create and sustain new journalism from its breeding grounds at the Herald Tribune and Esquire to the assortment of writers and editors, including Clay Felker, Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, and Hunter S. Thompson. He details the careers of these now famous writers as they tested the boundaries of conventional journalism, forever changing the way news and cultural trends are reported. Thompson's new journalism approach to the Nixon reelection bid was a refreshing change from more conventional coverage, while John Sack's Vietnam reports provided the first real look at the war in 1967 and severely departed from the World War II coverage, which emphasized heroism at the expense of realism. Weingarten also details the personal demons and vanities of these writers, the alcoholism and drug abuse of some, and the personal foibles of others. By placing these journalists in the broader historical context of advocacy journalism and the turbulent times in which they wrote, Weingarten provides a perspective on how journalism has changed. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

I'm a journalist and author in Los Angeles. I'm from New York originally, but L.A. has been my home for so long no w that I've forgotten what New York looks like. I write freelance articles on books, TV, technology, music and whatever else strikes my fancy at the moment I'm pitching. I've got a beautiful family that doesn't seem to care that I'm not as good-looking as they are.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Geronimo McDaniels on December 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
On the back cover, Chuck Klosterman writes that "if this book doesn't make you want to be a journalist, nothing will." While I absolutely agree with Klosterman's high praise for this excellent book, truth is, Weingarten has written an elegy for something that's been lost in today's journalism. Reading The Gang that Wouldn't Write Straight brought home to me just how far we've gotten from the spirit, the energy, the chutzpah, the adventurousness of the years Weingarten describes. And that's not to suggest any criticism of the author -- just the opposite, in fact. Weingarten is a true historian of era, and he has beautifully captured not only its hopes and promises, but also its disappointments and betrayals. Maybe Klosterman's point is that Weingarten has given us as a timely, needed, reminder of what journalists should aspire to. Not everything the so-called New Journalist wrote is first rate. Always, though, they had the right spirit of adventure about theiw work. Journalism was alive for them in a way that it's not now. Weingarten inspires journalists today to breathe new life into the profession. And his own effortless prose is a reminder of what good writing is all about in any era.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gcon on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book is more than just about wolfe, thompson, breslin, or didion. it takes you from the beginnings of the tribune, through esquire, through new york, up until rupert murdoch bought it all up, along with fantastic insight into what made the "new journalists" who they were, how thier styles evolved. i only gave the book 4 stars because it seemed a bit dry in some places, almost too detailed, and to me i had brief moments where it dragged, but overall, the book is definately worth reading. as already stated, this book makes you want to be a journalist. the author's enthusiasm comes through in the words, and the snippets he gives from articles, used to illustrate a point, highlight the wordcraft of breslin and wolf and all of them, who were reporting in a way that hadn't been done before. well written, interesting, it puts you right there in the middle of everything happening, by the time i was done, it felt like i had sat alongside normal mailer and hunter thompson while they got thier stories. i would reccommend this book to anyone interested in the "new journalism" and make it mandatory for anyone who wants to be a journalist.
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By Stephen Matlock on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Good, solid writing. A mix of a novel and an historical account of the rise, success, and fall of New Journalism and the new journalists. As an historical record, it's quite good and captures a feeling of what it was like to revolutionize how we talk about what has happened.
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