Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
By Hunter S. Thompson
Journalist Raoul Duke and attorney Dr. Gonzo travel to Las Vegas in 1971 to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race for a sporting magazine and decide to make it more of a vacation. “We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, laughers, screamers and some other goods”. They walk around the city of Las Vegas extremely buzzed on many different types of drugs. They have many different encounters with the city and different people around them. As the duo prepare to flee the city, Duke gets another assignment to cover a Narcotics Convention organized by the National Association of District Attorneys and the two simply book a new hotel room across town and begin the process anew. Eventually, they begin to mistrust each other, and the two leave Las Vegas separately.
When I read this book, I found the book extremely hilarious because the entire book is describing an insane drug frenzied journey of two men in the craziest city in the world. The book started with a bang when it drops you down directly into one of the drug induced hallucinations of Duke, which kept me glued in from the start. However, once the book goes on and you start to understand what Thompson is trying to say it soon becomes apparent that nobody really knows what Thompson could be trying to convey. Many people have tried to say that it is a political satire on the period but I do not know much about that periods politics so I could not really notice that. Nevertheless, I did happen to notice another thing that I believe Hunter S. Thompson was trying to say as well. I believe he was actually talking about his inner demons, and how they relate to the United States. He keeps trying to say that he used to have high ideals and morals until all of a sudden he started to crash and not care anymore. I believe that when you look at the American people in the time period this is when they made the switch from being very polite and conservative to being sort of the hippy liberal types that were around in that time period.
Why is this book “dangerous?”:
When the novel was published in the Rolling Stone magazine, in the summer of 1972, many critics did not appreciate the novel’s lack of a cohesive plot and the excessive drug use of Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo. However, those reviewers understood that, while the novel lacked a plot, Thompson had written a work that was going to become a very important part of American literature. The major concern of people who did not like the book was just two things. The first is that the book has an intense amount of drug use and a lot of bad language as well, which never is received extremely well. The other concern is that this book is an example of Gonzo journalism, which is when the reporter or writer throws himself into that story or environment and just tells an autobiography about it. The major critics and reviewers of his time did not appreciate this type of reporting. Thus, they did not give it very good reviews until the seventies when people opened up their minds a little bit.