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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test [Kindle Edition]

Tom Wolfe
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $7.98
You Save: $9.02 (53%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

"An American classic" (Newsweek) that defined a generation. “An astonishing book” (The New York Times Book Review) and an unflinching portrait of Ken Kesey, his Merry Pranksters, and the 1960s.




Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

They say if you remember the '60s, you weren't there. But, fortunately, Tom Wolfe was there, notebook in hand, politely declining LSD while Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters fomented revolution, turning America on to a dangerously playful way of thinking as their Day-Glo conveyance, Further, made the most influential bus ride since Rosa Parks's. By taking On the Road's hero Neal Cassady as his driver on the cross-country revival tour and drawing on his own training as a magician, Kesey made Further into a bully pulpit, and linked the beat epoch with hippiedom. Paul McCartney's Many Years from Now cites Kesey as a key influence on his trippy Magical Mystery Tour film. Kesey temporarily renounced his literary magic for the cause of "tootling the multitudes"--making a spectacle of himself--and Prankster Robert Stone had to flee Kesey's wild party to get his life's work done. But in those years, Kesey's life was his work, and Wolfe infinitely multiplied the multitudes who got tootled by writing this major literary-journalistic monument to a resonant pop-culture moment.

Kesey's theatrical metamorphosis from the distinguished author of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest to the abominable shaman of the "Acid Test" soirees that launched The Grateful Dead required Wolfe's Day-Glo prose account to endure (though Kesey's own musings in Demon Box are no slouch either). Even now, Wolfe's book gives what Wolfe clearly got from Kesey: a contact high. --Tim Appelo

Review

"Tom Wolfe is a groove and a gas. Everyone should send him money and other fine things. Hats off to Tom Wolfe!"--Terry Southern

"The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book . . . the pushing, ballooning heart of the matter . . . Vibrating dazzle!"--The New York Times

"Some consider Mailer our greatest journalist; my candidate is Wolfe."--Studs Terkel, Book Week

"A Day-Glo book, illuminating, merry, surreal!"--The Washington Post

"Electrifying."--San Francisco Chronicle

"An amazing book . . . A book that definitely gives Wolfe the edge on the nonfiction novel."--The Village Voice

"Among journalists, Wolfe is a genuine poet; what makes him so good is his ability to get inside, to not merely describe (although he is a superb reporter), but to get under the skin of a phenomenon and transmit its metabolic rhythm."--Newsweek


Product Details

  • File Size: 730 KB
  • Print Length: 436 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 031242759X
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (August 19, 2008)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046A9M7M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,249 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
156 of 169 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Reading Enjoyment June 23, 2000
Format:Paperback
I've savored just about every word this man's ever written. I still vividly recall him at a lecture he gave in Berkley in 1972 standing at the lectern in his white Gatsby suit, starched pink shirt and nattily knotted tie. I can't recall the ostensible topic. He covered so much ground and had such a wealth of ideas and insights that the topic was irrelevent anyway. He's always been our keenest observer of American culture, on subjects ranging from hippies, art snobs, wall street, the space race, to the Southern nouveau-riches.
In terms of unadulterated reading enjoyment, however, this book is still my favorite. He captures the era perfectly. This was the period in the mid-sixties when the hippie philosophy and lifestyle was still genuine, before it had become commercially exploited by the mass media, before Manson and Altamont and the seeds of evil. It was an uncorrupted, pure, joyous movement and moment. Owsley was the bay area chemist who produced hits of Sandoz-quality acid that sent the children out dancing blissfully through the night and into the purple dawn. It truly looked like a brave new world. If you are young and can't undertand why former hippies wax nostalgic about it, it's primarily (at least to me) because that tiny era of innocence can never be recreated.
If ever there were a work of either fiction or non fiction that captured the essence, freedom, and expectation of a marvelous era, this is it!
One of the great non fiction works of the 20th century!
BEK
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58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get on the bus! February 1, 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"You're either on the bus...or off the bus." This is the choice facing you as you begin to read Tom Wolfe's classic saga of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters as they test the boundries of consciousness and test the limits of other human's patience. What is almost as amazing as the lengths to which the pranksters went to enjoy their existence on Earth, is the style that Wolfe has chosen to narrate the adventures. Brillliantly blending stream of consciousness writing and a journalistic sense of description, Wolfe immerses himself in Kesey's world in an attempt to understand the thoughts of a group of adults who would paint a school bus with day-glo colors and trek across the United States with pitchers full of acid and a video camera keeping an eye on it all. Who could resist a chance to find out what it was like to spend a quaint evening in the woods reaching altered states of consciousness with a group of Hell's Angels, or taking a peek inside the world of the budding hippie stars led by a youthful Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Whether or not you approve of massive drug use will not impact your liking of this book, and for anyone who takes an interest in the counterculture movement this book is a must-read. Also acts as a perfect companion to Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." Now you must decide, "Can YOU pass the acid test?"
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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being There June 23, 2000
Format:Paperback
I've savored just about every word this man's ever written. I still vividly recall him at a lecture he gave in Berkley in 1972 standing at the lectern in his white Gatsby suit, starched pink shirt and nattily knotted tie. I can't recall the ostensible topic. He covered so much ground and had such a wealth of ideas and insights that the topic was irrelevent anyway. He's always been our keenest observer of American culture, on subjects ranging from hippies, art snobs, wall street, the space race, to the Southern nouveau-riches.
In terms of unadulterated reading enjoyment, however, this book is still my favorite. He captures the era perfectly. This was the period in the mid-sixties when the hippie philosophy and lifestyle was still genuine, before it had become commercially exploited by the mass media, before Manson and Altamont and the seeds of evil. It was an uncorrupted, pure, joyous movement and moment. Owsley was the bay area chemist who produced hits of Sandoz-quality acid that sent the children out dancing blissfully through the night and into the purple dawn. It truly looked like a brave new world. If you are young and can't undertand why former hippies wax nostalgic about it, it's primarily (at least to me) because that tiny era of innocence can never be recreated. The waters of cynisism have washed away all the bridges to that idyllic past. The era can, however, thanks to Tom Wolfe, be revisited. I urge you to take the tour.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric? It Sure Was April 8, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book probably gives the most detailed and essential guide to the sixties. Being a teenager now, i have no idea what the time period was like, but after reading Tom Wolfes book, i have a pretty good idea.
The book delves into the heart of 60's America, giving (in as much detail as possible i think) a wierd and wonderful account of people, pranks and LSD. The book is written in a style i have never come across before, Wolfe using very inventive terms. The style itself is used mainly to re-create the feel of the time period, getting the feel of being 'On The Bus', and providing fantastic results.
Kesey and the Merry Pranksters aren't given bias either. They aren't praised or put down and that gives the book an extra strength. Wolfe using a 3rd person account, simply tells a story (and what a story).
Some parts of the book are somewhat longwinded, but on a whole its a masterpiece, quite simply a classic. Its certainly different, sometimes providing a somewhat LSD account of things, but wasn't that the sixties in a nut-shell? Probably. This is what Tom Wolfe set out to create, and how well he manages it.
Reading it now you'll think, "Wouldn't it be great to experiance the sixties for myself. Being on the bus, grooving with Kesey and the Pranksters, playing the cops and robbers game..." and then you realise you only went and got born in the 80's!
Still, opening the book again will transport there in the comfort of your own home. 'ELECTRIC' and 'KOOL', a must-read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Can I Get a Lift
I slogged through this mess. Its about 120 pages too long. No way this needed to be more than 300 pages. Read more
Published 4 days ago by NoOneYouKnow
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought for a friend. Need I say more?
Published 11 days ago by Barry Stukenbroeker
1.0 out of 5 stars Historical facts are stranger than fiction, but the writing...oh...
Wow, the times they have already changed. It blows my mind that anyone would publish such incredibly lousy writing. I guess "back then" it was really hot topical stuff. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Laura P. Schulman
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Interesting story line but a tough read.
Published 24 days ago by Ted C. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hippie Rosetta Stone
If you want to know how the aesthetic associated with the sixties came to be, the art, the music, the literature, it all started with Ken Kesey in the woods south of San Francisco. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ray Muller
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wild trip!
Published 2 months ago by mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Acid Test
An iconic depiction of the Merry Pranksters and the hippie realm.
Published 2 months ago by Florence Bunten
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The book was in great condition.
Published 2 months ago by gloria
5.0 out of 5 stars which was widely accepted by the Indian tribes as a beautiful,...
this is the true story of ken keseys merry pranksters, about their fast, wildly driven "can you pass the acid test" having bands such as the grateful dead play at these... Read more
Published 2 months ago by bessel orchid
5.0 out of 5 stars Yay!
Great book
Published 2 months ago by Thomas D
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More About the Author

Tom Wolfe is the author of more than a dozen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and A Man in Full. A native of Richmond, Virginia, he earned his B.A. at Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in American studies at Yale. He lives in New York City.

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