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Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson Hardcover – October 31, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (October 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316005274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316005272
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Uproarious and unpredictable, this oral biography is a fitting look at the turbulent life of Gonzo journalism pioneer Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005), a life surrounded by many but understood by few: "always pushing," Thompson "created a kind of inner circle of people who stood the test." That circle is well represented among the volume's many "voices," including ex-wife Sandy Thompson and their son, Juan, longtime collaborator Ralph Steadman, actors Johnny Depp and Jack Nicholson, and old friends Porter Bibb and Ed Bastian. The story-tellers provide a great number of angles, bringing forth insight that goes well beyond Thompson's famous love for alcohol and drugs-though they don't neglect the intoxicants, nor the eccentric writer's most obvious quirks (such as his indiscriminate verbal outbursts: "he was always yelling at himself, like 'AAHHH!!! CAZART!!!'"). A rich, rollicking vision of Thompson that highlights his outlandish personality and his passion for language ("He started typing out Fitzgerald and Hemingway books word for word... he said, 'I just like to get the feel of how it is to write those words.'"), Wenner and Seymour's work also encompasses the unlikely transition of Gonzo from radical, reactionary style-du-jour to culture-defining literature: "Only a handful of writers in a generation can pull that off, and Hunter transcended his competition." This fine, fond biography amuses, inspires, outrages and haunts at all the right moments-and sometimes all at once.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jann S. Wenner is the founder, owner and editor of Rolling Stone magazine. He is also the head of Wenner Media, which includes such magazines as US Weekly and Men's Journal. He lives in Manhattan.

Corey Seymour is a writer and editor who came to know Hunter Thompson while working as his New York-based assistant during his tenure at Rolling Stone in the early nineties. He lives in Brooklyn. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I read this book out loud to my boyfriend.
The narrative that Jann and many other ideological opponents that Hunter's legacy has left behind here is insidious in its malicious and stupid intent.
Douglas B. Bullard
If you're a fan of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, then this is a must read.
Jeffrey J. Jackson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Tim on November 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
From Anita Thompson:

Reading the LA times review of Jann Wenner's book made me realize I need to communicate in more specific terms. The reviewer was too sloppy to understand that Jann never forgave Hunter for leaving Rolling Stone. Jann convinced nearly all of Hunter's friends to participate in what would be a "positive" book about Hunter. Then, using a cheap parlor trick, Jann excerpted and paraphrased the negative bits of interviews to weave a tall tale to trash Hunter.

Hunter wrote more in the last 5 years of his life than he had in the previous 15, along with fighting and winning a beautiful legal battle for Lisl Auman. Hunter believed in the triumph of the human spirit. John Nichols from the Nation has said, and I agree, that some of Hunter's most savage and inspiring political writing, was in his ESPN columns during the last years of his life. Yes, they were short, insightful and funny. He inspired thousands of sports lovers to get involved with politics. Simple.
What the L.A. Times reviewer fails to notice is that in addition to Hunter "using" people around him, the truth is that Hunter was surrounded, much of his life, by leeches (many of those leeches grace the pages of the book). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that many people did TAKE, TAKE, TAKE from Hunter and gave very little in return. While sitting at his typewriter, Hunter helped many people, especially Jann, make a lot of money. Today is no exception.

Here is the letter that I wrote to Jann in May, after receiving the manuscript. I had to tell him the book was a FRAUD, and that I would not write a forward or include an interview -- which was SCARY, because I felt very much alone.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Wintertiger on February 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a book I wanted to like: a view of Hunter Thompson from the people who knew him. Unfortunately, this was edited by a man who apparently still holds deep resentments against Thompson and has no problem venting (and cashing in on) them now that HST cannot defend himself. Some nice moments can be found, but in general this book is, as HST once put it, a real hamburger job.

The best way to experience Hunter Thompson is his own writing in his own books. Wenner's book is just another shovel in the great and terrible onslaught of graverobbing and greedheaded necrosodomy that has followed Thompson's death.

Jann, rather than take cheap shots at your former writers, you really should pay more attention to making Rolling Stone edgy again, as it was when Hunter wrote for you. RS is now nothing but creampuff articles and tons of glossy corporate advertising, the direct intellectual equivalent of Tiger Beat. Rolling Stone is to journalism what the Ho-Ho is to cuisine, and it doesn't have to be that way.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Charles Memminger on January 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Rolling Stone editor slays king of Gonzo
By Charles Memminger
Honolulu Star-Bulletin Jan. 24, 2008

Knowing I had met and interviewed one of my favorite authors, Hunter S. Thompson, at the Kahala Mandarin in 2002, three years before he killed himself, my daughter Sarah gave me for Christmas a new book out on the great man. I sent this e-mail to her at college in Oregon:

Dear Sarah,

I finished "Gonzo," the "oral history" hatchet job on Hunter Thompson that apparently all of his ex-wives, girlfriends and anyone else he ever p--ed off decided to publish. What a brutal tome. Man, this was like the entire Roman senate turning on Julius Caesar.

Et tu, Jann Wenner? Wenner is the publisher of Rolling Stone magazine who masterminded this posthumous character assassination. He also encouraged Hunter's extreme behavior in return for putting Rolling Stone on the political and pop-culture map. Wenner whined all the way to the circulation bank about how hard it was to get Hunter to finish a story, but then would drop acid with him at Hunter's Colorado compound and basically attach himself like a rented remora to Hunter so he could bask in the residual glory and coolness that surrounded the country's King of Weird.

Wenner wrung the last bit of creative juice out of Hunter, finally discarding him like a used grapefruit, leaving him a pathetic, drunken, drug-addled, hobbled (and essentially impoverished) shell. Probably to protect his literary legacy from further degenerating into parody and pathos, Hunter took the .45-caliber express to Shambhala. And how lucky for Wenner. Wenner had a winner of an ending for his alleged biography of Hunter.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on March 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Here were are: an "oral biography" of Hunter S. Thompson, orchestrated by his longtime editor/friend/foil Jann Wenner, the Godfather of Rolling Stone, with help from Corey Seymour, one of Wenner`s capos/lackeys.

What exactly is an oral biography? I always assumed it was a lot of quotes and anecdotes from people with firsthand knowledge, something much looser than a plain old biography. Many stories. Many points of view. With the reader charged with most of the impossible task of putting Humpty Dumpty into a coherent whole.

From Gonzo, The Life of Hunter of Hunter S. Thompson, I was expecting a loose collection of the wildest Duke stories. The kind of book meant to be read on Coconut Grove with a pitcher or tab or pipe full of your recreational drug of choice. I was expecting all Hunter's friends and enemies and various drug dealers, bikers and groupies in a big battle to deliver the wildest, weirdest, most poignant stories of the Good Doctor.

In short, I was expecting a Gonzo history of Gonzo.

But this book is as far from Gonzo as it gets. It is neat. It is thorough. It is a linear, tight and very satisfying narrative. The speakers are kept on a tight schedule. They are each given a few paragraphs to make some point Wenner has deemed worth making and then are quickly ushered offstage. None ever threaten to take over or make a scene. There are no contact highs anywhere in these pages. No hangovers either. Wenner explains in his introduction that those wild Hunter stories gets tiring after a while. Wenner however didn't seem to think the reader would have a problem with endless stories of how hard Hunter was on editors.

I am not being fair. I enjoyed this book.
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