Check out our Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas review to see if this infamous novel by Hunter S. Thompson should be on your reading list.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reviewed
Hunter S. Thompson is a legendary journalist who pioneered “Gonzo journalism,” an intimate and immersive reporting style. He gained fame as a counterculture icon for his anti-authoritarian work and hard-driving lifestyle.
His 1965 article on the Hell’s Angels biker gang in The Nation was a massive sensation and prompted a book deal. Additionally, he has gained acclaim for his collection of analytical articles initially published in Rolling Stone on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, called Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72, also illustrated by the masterful Ralph Steadman.
Tragically, his fondness for drug use led to bouts of poor health until he committed suicide at age 67.
His most famous work is the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a groundbreaking portrayal of the wild and often absurd journey of two friends through the Nevada desert. The novel is an unforgettable and chaotic look at drug culture debauchery and a cautionary tale of living the wild life.
What is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas about?
In 1971, Thompson received an assignment to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race in Nevada. Instead, he wrote a psychedelic tale of his alter ego, Raoul Duke, and Samoan attorney friend Doctor Gonzo (based on his real-life friend Oscar Acosta) in search of the American dream.
Sports Illustrated rejected the piece. However, it was later serialized in Rolling Stone magazine in 1972 as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, a critical and commercial success illustrated by Ralph Steadman.
The novel follows the main character, journalist Raoul Duke, and his attorney Dr. Gonzo, as they travel to Las Vegas in the car Great Red Shark to cover a motorcycle race. Raoul and his friend are going to the Mint 400 race, chasing the American Dream, taking dangerous drugs such as LSD, cocaine, and mescaline.
They attend the race the following day after arriving and settling into their hotel room, with Raoul still hallucinating from LSD. Unfortunately, the cars produce a cloud of dust on the track so thick that it is impossible to watch. This prompts Raoul to consider how he is meant to write about something he cannot see.
After an insane night in Circus-Circus, Gonzo ends up in a crazed state in the tub after taking drugs, asking Raoul to throw a radio in with him. The next night, Raoul was hell-bent on getting out of there. Gonzo left him with drugs, a gun, and a huge hotel bill. On the day of his planned departure, he got a telegram from Gonzo telling him to stick around for a narcotics and hazardous drugs conference hosted by the National District Attorney.
Along the way, the duo encounters bizarre and often disturbing characters and partake in various dangerous activities. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the two friends are self-destructing. It shows them descending into a world of drugs, violence, and madness.
Our review of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
So, is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas any good? Here’s our book review.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas follows Raoul Duke’s and Dr. Gonzo’s journey through Las Vegas in The Great Red Shark. They struggle with morality issues and questions of true freedom in a decaying world that is abandoning its once-idealistic aspirations.
Thompson’s book is a savage journey filled with wit and dark humor. The novel is a roller coaster of emotions. It features everything from the highs and lows of drug-fueled adventures with the fictional drug adrenochrome to moments of introspection and reflection. Hunter S. Thompson’s writing style is distinctive and assertive, capturing the chaos and frenzy of the wild ride. The novel also explores themes of morality, freedom, and identity. It’s a wild ride that readers will remember.
Throughout the novel, readers experience various emotions following this chaotic yet captivating journey. In the end, Hunter S. Thompson’s writing style paints a vivid picture of chaos and reveals the fragility of life on the edge.
The New York Times called the book “the best book on the dope decade” in 1972, and Thompson said that prolific American novelist Jack Kerouac was also a great influence on his writing style.
That said, while being a great book, it isn’t for everyone. Some readers may not mesh with the writing style, and the topics covered may be too intense for others. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is an unflinching look at the dark side of the human experience, and it can be a difficult journey at times. The book is available on Amazon, but you can also find it at a local bookstore.
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Is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas based on a true story?
The answer is yes and no. The book is a fictional account of a true story about the road trips Thompson took with Oscar Acosta from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
What is the meaning of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
Thompson’s book paints a bleak, drug-fueled picture of the city and how the original hippie counterculture vision had been twisted into something unrecognizable by the sweeping wave of the American Dream of the Nixon era.
How long does it take to read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
You can expect to read this book for three to four hours on average.
Did Hunter S. Thompson make a cameo in the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
Thompson made a cameo as himself in the 1998 film.
Who stars in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro are the protagonists of the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas movie adaptation, which was directed by Terry Gilliam.
Is there a sequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
There technically is no sequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but a prequel film exists. Fear and Loathing in Aspen is an official movie prequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, starring Jay Bulger as Hunter S. Thompson.