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The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time [Paperback]

by Hunter S. Thompson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 6, 2003 0743250451 978-0743250450
Originally published in 1979, the first volume of the bestselling "Gonzo Papers" is now back in print. The Great Shark Hunt is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's largest and, arguably, most important work, covering Nixon to napalm, Las Vegas to Watergate, Carter to cocaine. These essays offer brilliant commentary and outrageous humor, in signature Thompson style.
Ranging in date from the National Observer days to the era of Rolling Stone, The Great Shark Hunt offers myriad, highly charged entries, including the first Hunter S. Thompson piece to be dubbed "gonzo" -- "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved," which appeared in Scanlan's Monthly in 1970. From this essay a new journalistic movement sprang which would change the shape of American letters. Thompson's razor-sharp insight and crystal clarity capture the crazy, hypocritical, degenerate, and redeeming aspects of the explosive and colorful '60s and '70s.

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The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time + Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga + Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
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Editorial Reviews Review

In addition to being a testament to the undeniably beatifying properties of American excess--literary, political, chemical, you name it--Hunter Thompson is the high priest of the ad hominem attack. Anyone unlucky enough to get in the way of his satirical sledgehammer will end up with soup for brains. Still, even Thompson needs a good villain to get properly lathered up; that's why he peaked simultaneously with America's 37th president, Richard Milhous Nixon. Tricky Dick was Thompson's dark-jowled, pale-calved Muse, and with his departure Thompson seemed to lose his place a bit. Swatting flies with a baseball bat.

You need look no further for this writer's best: this collection of pieces, first published in 1979, spans all of Thompson's primo era, including short pieces and selections from longer works. The Great Shark Hunt sports a few articles filed by a pre-Gonzo Hunter S. Thompson, which show flickers of passion but no real fire; the first experiments with the author's drug-fueled brand of journalism at the Kentucky Derby; and finally the gigs that made him an American institution, in Las Vegas and on the 1972 campaign trail.

Thompson's style is so unique that a reader is tempted to think that he leapt, fully formed, into Gonzohood. However, along with the crazy, careening prose itself, one of the auxiliary pleasures of The Great Shark Hunt is the map that it gives of Thompson's ascent (or descent, if you prefer) from the workaday hyperbole of sports writing to the hell-blast vigor of his later work. The drugs are, by and large, a distraction--lifestyle points that get in the way of the genuinely perceptive journalism that Thompson created. (But they are there, always, and in quantity.) If you're looking for insight into the underbelly of America, Hunter S. Thompson is your best and only guide, and The Great Shark Hunt is an excellent place to begin the grim safari. --Michael Gerber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The Washington Post He amuses; he frightens; he flirts with doom. His achievement is substantial.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 602 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743250451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743250450
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hunter S. Thompson's books include Fear and Loathing in America, Screwjack, Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex, The Rum Diary, and Kingdom of Fear. He was contributor to various national and international publications, including a weekly sports column for ESPN Online. Thompson died February 2005.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thompson's Best. Period. May 23, 2006
I've read all of Thompson's books, and nothing approaches Shark Hunt for sheer ferocity of intelligence, perception, and the gleefully lunatic Gonzo outlook. He put himself fearlessly and hilariously in the middle of his stories and thus changed both modern journalism and history itself as he rocked through some of the wildest times this country will ever see.

These are HST's finest magazine pieces from the 60s and 70s, chosen and edited by the author. His takes on Nixon and Ali and Vietnam are startlingly prescient, so dead-on in the hindsight of three decades that one begins to wonder why Thompson isn't ranked with Mailer and Capote and Vidal as one of modern America's most trenchant essayists.

He's certainly funnier than all of them put together, with a uniquely skewed stance full of outrage and insanity. Sure, F&L In Vegas gets all the attention, but that book is mainly full-on Gonzo, and, while truly classic, hardly touches this collection for depth of insight and understanding of one of the most vital and transformative periods in American history.

The essay on Haight-Ashbury alone is worth the price of this tome; he lived there before the lunacy started and stayed through to its peak, and presents the tale as only one who tripped through the flaked-out soul of that time could. There are sentences in that piece that are pure poetry, some of the finest dissection the 60s ever saw...and that's just the tip of this glorious literary iceberg that melts happily from the hand into the mind.

Thompson had a style that is oft-imitated but never approached, and here we see him crafting that style as the years go by, emerging as one of the most unique essayists this country has ever produced.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible of Gonzo. December 6, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Here's one book which collects, in scores of stories and articles spanning a few hundred pages, every facet of Hunter S. Thompson's career, in which he seamlessly transitioned from staid Air Force newspaper writer to roaming correspondent for the now-defunct _National Observer_ to edgy compatriot of the Hell's Angels to full-bore, drug-addled gonzo journalist. And everything inbetween, to boot.
Nowhere else is the richness of Thompson's talent so fully illustrated than in _Shark Hunt_. Here, in "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," a chronicle of the yearly madness in Thompson's hometown of Louisville, the reader experiences the earliest rumblings of what would later become a totally unique journalistic style that he further developed in "Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl," also found here.
We are also treated to assorted dispatches from Thompson's travels throughout North and South America, written when he was a roaming correspondent for Dow Jones' _National Observer._ Here the true skill and power of Thompson's writing becomes apparent -- an observation both powerful and poignant when these writings are compared to his later works, making it clear that the drugs have indeed taken their toll on his remarkable mind.
For the new Gonzoist, excerpts are included from _Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas_ as well as _Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72._ Through not very useful if you own these books already, they still make for fun bathroom reading.
Also included are most, if not all, of Thompson's articles for "Rolling Stone" about the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation -- truly rollicking political tales full of savage grace and fiendish wit. Sadly lacking are Ralph Steadman's original drawings which accompanied the stories in RS.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gonzo Grail February 24, 2005
I know Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the "Great Work" for which he will be forever remembered and deservedly so. However, Shark Hunt is a kind of Penguin Reader of the Essential HST and as such is the indispensable survey of the glory years.

I read this six or eight times between the ages of 19 and 22. If you have a brain ripe for warping, crack this one some time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Present At the Creation March 19, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In a review of Hunter Thompson's later journalistic work compiled under the title , Song Of The Doomed, a retrospective sampling of his works through the early 1990s, many of the early pieces which appeared in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine during its more radical, hipper phase, I noted the following points that are useful to repost here in reviewing The Great Shark Hunt, an earlier, similar compilation of his journalistic pieces:

"Generally the most the trenchant social criticism, commentary and analysis complete with a prescriptive social program ripe for implementation has been done by thinkers and writers who work outside the realm of bourgeois society, notably socialists, like Karl Marx. Vladimir Lenin, and Leon Trotsky and other less radical progressive thinkers. Bourgeois society rarely allows itself, in self-defense if nothing else, to be skewered by trenchant criticism from within. This is particularly true when it comes from a man of big, high life appetites, a known dope fiend, a furious wild man gun freak, and all-around edge city lifestyle addict like the late, massively lamented, massively lamented in this quarter in any case, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Nevertheless, although he was far, very far, from any thought of a socialist solution to society's current problems and would reject such a designation, I think out of hand, we could travel part of the way with him. We saw him as a kindred spirit. He was not one of us-but he was one of us. All honor to him for pushing the envelope of mad truth-seeking journalism in new directions and for his pinpricks at the hypocrisy of bourgeois society. Such men are dangerous.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not My Favorite Hunter S. by Far
If you're very interested in political rants about Nixon, this is the book for you. Otherwise, go for Songs of the Doomed if you want a better, funnier Gonzo classic. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Bucho
5.0 out of 5 stars Grat Read
I had the great pleasure of living next door to Hunter and to say the least, He was a very interesting Man. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pepper
4.0 out of 5 stars amazing
If you are into strange writing and twisted way of getting to know about things. This book is great.

Hooked by Hunter S. Thompson and his irreverent wit and Gonzo ways
Published 2 months ago by pripollg
5.0 out of 5 stars classic hunter thompson
If you like Hunter Thompson you'll enjoy The Great Shark Hunt. He rips everyone a new one and it's a great read.
Published 3 months ago by toilet guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear and Loathing at it's Best
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson has long been one of my favorite writers. The book encompasses a series of essay's from all phases of his work. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Michael Bradshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny stuff
Typical HST. You have to know and like the late Hunter S Thompson to enjoy his work, and this is just another example of his "off the beaten path" writing, thus making it a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by W. Keller
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for any Hunter fan.
This collection of articles written by Thompson is a good start for any fan. However, those who got into Thompson from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" might have to get... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bret
2.0 out of 5 stars Dated
A GREAT book when I read it in 1979, its age grossly overshadows HST's work as a writer. I couldn't work through it this time around and HST was one of the writers whose style... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Gary P. Joyce
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Hunter
A fine compilation of Hunter Thompson's articles and book extracts from the 60's and 70's.
Thompson took journalism to a `higher' level in regards to reporting and we should... Read more
Published 13 months ago by William J Higgins III
4.0 out of 5 stars Condition Bad, Book Good
The book was great but the condition wasn't as advertised. The jacket was ripped considerably. That said, the book was in pretty good shape and I'm happy with the purchase.
Published 15 months ago by Jess
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Fear and Loathing by Hunter S. Thompson
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