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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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I had never read any Hunter S Thompson books before "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72"; the only experience I had with the gonzo guru was Terry Gilliam's adaptation of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." The book begins by outlining Thompson's attitude towards politics and, more pertinently, his perspective of political journalism. Writing for the Rolling Stone, Thompson immediately gets over the feeling of being on the razor's edge, just one step from total car crash insanity.

The "edgy" feeling Thompson swings like a cudgel serves him well as he delves into various misadventures, asides and other nonsense that that could only happen in the crazy, sick world the Republicans and Democrats. Hunter does a fantastic job getting the various personalities over during the book and keeps things interesting during the monotonous run of the campaigns (which is something most political books fail to do).

While not his best work, this is another effort that will subtly beckon for a re-read down the line, and the fact that I'm considering keeping it around speaks volumes about the book's entertainment value and historical significance.
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on October 16, 2016
Thompson does it again. This time its the 1972 election and his instincts are so sharp and on point, far more than any others at the time. Hunter has the ability to look past the words of a stump speech and find the inner flame of the candidate, or the hollow black spot where their heart should have been.
It's easy to read. Scathing and funny at the same time. To be cursed by Thompson would be an honor if it didn't require them to be despicable.
After reading Thompson, other political commentary seems as fluffy as egg whites.
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on May 19, 2017
If anyone were to own only one book by Hunter, it would have to be this one. The introduction contains a clearer picture of the reasons Hunter wrote than available elsewhere. It is a record of a search for a dream that is not to be. I can recommend it to any, whether they are fans of Hunter or not.
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VINE VOICEHALL OF FAMEon 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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on March 2, 2008
I read this book as an appetizer for the current US presidential election campaign. And what an appetizer it is - akin to a halopenio shrimp cocktail with mescalin! It would have been an even better starter for the 2004 election, with which the 1972 election (featured here) shared many features: An incumbent hated by all the progressives at home and everybody in the rest of the world, an opponent who stands for nothing but not being that incumbent (defeated in the primaries in 72) and a murderous, immoral and expensive war on the other side of the world, which nevertheless didn't cost the US president his job.

When the great HST covers the 1972 campaign, the verb "cover" takes on a whole new meaning. He immerses himself in the broadcast of a pro football game in order to adopt the same mindset as pro football fanatic Richard Nixon. He almost drowns in the Atlantic ocean in Miami in sight of his friends at a democratic primary-night party. At the republican convention, he joins the young republicans and talks to them about acid (they think he is referring to proton donors, like hydrochloric acid). Not despite, but rather because of this famous "gonzo" style of journalism, HST's book is rich in insight about US politics and politics in general. He goes so much further than the horse-race type coverage commonly fed to the public. Thompson provides an intelligent assessment of the moods and trends in the US population and a really smart analysis of why people vote for whom. He has excellent insight into the dynamics of the individual campaigns and how they are molded by the characters and agendas of the candidates, the interactions with their campaign workers and their relations to the party apparatus. HST doesn't think of elections as some kind of stunt happening every couple of years, but he explains them as deeply interwoven with the social and demographic workings of the USA.

Some of my most favorite political quotes are from this book. Thompson really loves his country, he says "it could have been a testament to some of man's best instincts", but he is in despair over the crocks (Nixon and cronies) who have taken it hostage. This emotional state of his and the worry about the direction the US will take in '72 got him to write an intense and fiery book.

Do yourself a favor - stop following the electoral coverage on the corporate media for a week, use your time to read this book, and then go back to the current campaign and you will view it in a new light.
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on April 21, 2017
I was ready to discount this book as another beat writer's ramble. But, I was pleasantly surprised who insightful HST is and how honest the piece is. He really is a sharp writer. The writing is dense so I took it in sections but it was a very educational read.
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on November 30, 2001
Anyone wishing to truly understand the Age of Nixon should have three books in their collection: The Final Days by Woodward 7 Bernstein; The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon by Anthony Summers; and Fear & Loathing: On The Campaign Trail '72.
True, in this book Thompson focuses most of his attention and energy on the Democratic primary -- but that primary season was irrevocably shaped by Nixonian politics, and, in any event, Thompson did, surprisingly, manage to spend some time with the Nixon campaign.
F&L:OTCPT'72 provides a jaggedly sharp view of the inner workings of four Democratic campaigns: the primary efforts of Ed Muskie and George Wallas as well as McGovern's equally ill-starred primary and general campaigns. Thompson's writing is remarkably unclouded; he writes as he saw things, holding back no details and pulling no punches. Would that political reporting were always so uncritical and focused!
Of course, as with any Thompson book, this one is not without its moments of gut-busting laughter. The Doktor's savage daydream about convention delegate vote-brokering as well as a episode involving the "Boo-Hoo" -- a drunken maniac who harrassed Senator Ed Muskie during a whistlestop campaign tour of Florida -- are priceless moments of humor.
Thompson was never quite as crazed as he was in this book. Even in "Hell's Angels", Thompson was more of a reporter than a participant in the action. For this reason, F&L:OTCPT'72 is truly Gonzo Journalism at its peak.
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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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on January 13, 2006
Absolutely essential, required reading. This was the turning point. Hideous, undersexed, sterile balloons in overpriced suits snatching away the bodies of men with real vision, taking their place and perpetrating the Great Pasteurization of American Political Thought. Circumnavigating intellect and feeling. Selling off the vestiges of a cultural revolution in favor of demographics and empty, moderate stumping in front of a hungover nation that had already tuned out. And Thompson was there, tapping his foot restlessly and observing in the midst of the faint echo. The bullets had already flown, all that remained was to mop up the frightened votes. He was there, anarchic in the middle of the static, taking it all down before his sodden mind forgot it and ducking the heartless swine every step of the way. Painting a vibrant, living picture of the day the ideas ran out. Thank god the whiskey didn't.
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