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The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  112 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
An adventure-filled and thought-provoking travelogue along Hunter S. Thompson's forgottenroute through South America

In 1963, twenty-five-year-old Hunter S. Thompson completed a yearlong journey across South America, filing a series of dispatches for an upstartpaper called the National Observer. It was here, on the front lines of the Cold War, that this then-unknown reporte
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 20th 2014 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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(showing 1-30 of 545)
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Patrick Sprunger
It should be noted at the outset that The Footloose American is an un-madcap, not-gonzo, anti-romp through South America. I think this should be established clearly, up-front. The book is, instead, the clear-headed, balanced reflection of a youngish American journalist, comfortably past the granola/Guevara-worshipping phase of middle-class wanderlust. Brian Kevin is out there gathering intel that - I like to think - all Americans would value - a fact finding mission that isn't simply designed to ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Claire rated it really liked it
I received The Footloose American as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

Author Brian Kevin retraces Hunter S. Thompson's little-known but influential yearlong trek around South America in 1962-63, visiting the sites references in Thompson's articles and seeking to understand how Thompson's experience as a journalist on the continent soured him so completely on America's future.

Each chapter generally focuses on a different country. Kevin visits with a wide range of people of different ethnic and econom
May 06, 2014 Amber rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Thank you very much Mr. Kevin for coming into my life right during finals prep week. I'm 20 pages behind on my paper and I hope you're happy!

In all seriousness, once I got into this book I really couldn't put it down. Kevin follows the trail a 25-year old Hunter Thompson took through South America in the 60s. Using Thompson's work as a map, a guide for his own travels, Kevin discusses aspects of the social, economic, political and natural histories of several South American countries in a very a
Peter Knox
May 10, 2016 Peter Knox rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book by Brian Kevin, as it's clear we're both fans of HST, travel, and travel writing. Kevin immerses himself into the letters, articles, and traveling timetable of a pre-gonzo Hunter S. Thompson as he covered all of South America in 1963 for various US publications, doing what no one else was doing at that time as a way to break through as a journalist and better understand America/life through seeing how they lived in South America.

This crucial part of a developing writer'
Dec 18, 2014 Elderberrywine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
Very insightful, entertaining, and frequently hilarious.

Kevin recreates Hunter Thompson's trip through South America, circa 1962 and prior to his gonzo stage. Thompson focused on the social/political aspects, especially vis-a-vis the connections with the United States, and Kevin does the same. But Kevin has a keen eye and a wicked wit, and the results are delightful as well as illuminating.

Here is a bit of his first day in La Paz, Bolivia. Bolivia is land-locked, very poor, and most of it sits a
May 30, 2014 Louise rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-america
There are revisits of the Silk Road, the Lewis and Clark route, de Tocqueville’s Travels, Che Guevara’s motorcycle trip and there is even a re-trace that debunks Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie. Is this book a fore-runner of a new niche within this genre, that is, the tracing of lesser known routes?

Hunter Thompson went to South American in 1962 as a free-lance journalist and sent dispatches to the now defunct “National Observer”. Travel writer, Brian Kevin, loosely followed his route from Colom
Meg - A Bookish Affair
May 14, 2014 Meg - A Bookish Affair rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel, 2014
"The Footloose American" is a travelogue of sorts where author, Brian Kevin, follows gonzo reporter, Hunter S. Thompson's, footsteps through South America. Thompson wrote a lot about the culture and politics of South American countries and was clearly fascinated with it. Kevin blends Thompson's observations on the places he visited along with his own. We get to see what these places were like back when Thompson were visiting and what they were like relatively recently. If you like travelogues th ...more
Aug 01, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: South America, politics, Hunter S. Thompson
I read this book on a whim, having watched Fear & Loathing and enjoying it, I picked up The Footloose American by Brian Kevin. My first impression of the first chapter or so was "wow this is going to be a long one". I rarely read non-fiction, let alone anything about politics. As Colleen Mertens (a fellow reviewer) stated, I knew very little about the big topics of the book, so it took me a long time but I'm glad that I didn't give up, I learned a lot.
Brian Kevin gives an accurate account of
Jun 24, 2014 OutlawPoet rated it really liked it
A Review from the Thompson Neophyte

While I do know a bit about Hunter S. Thompson, it's just a bit. I'm not a fan by any stretch of the imagination. But I love adventure and of rebellion. This seemed like the opportunity to vicariously live a bit while learning a little about Thompson.

From the point of view of a person who *isn't* a fan, Brian Kevin presents an engaging travelogue (sort of world's most dangerous places - lite!), a fascinating comparison between contemporary South American and hi
Colleen Mertens
May 02, 2014 Colleen Mertens rated it liked it
I read this book that I won in a contest here on Goodreads. It was interesting to read and would be fascinating to fans of Hunter S. Thompson since the writer followed in his footsteps through South America. I knew little about either of the main topics of the book so I learned much from the book. It took me a while to read though because I didn't know about either topic. Good book overall.
Jul 27, 2015 Bengt rated it really liked it
Little gonzo and lots of paseño geopolitics.
Richard McColl
Apr 22, 2015 Richard McColl rated it it was amazing
This book is right up my street in an obvious way due to the Hunter S Thompson link and of course my voracious appetite for travel literature on Latin America. I will admit that the Footloose is not aimed at me as a reader since my knowledge is profound on the subject but I would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone thinking of taking an extended journey through the region to get an idea of the realities of the Cold War in this part of the world and how these decisions and this era of politics ...more
Apr 14, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The Footloose American is a non-fiction book that follows Author Brian Kevin as he chases the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson. When Thompson was 25, he began his famous career as a "Gonzo" journalist, the first of his kind that many would try and fail to mimic even today.

Brian Kevin followed the path whole and true, going to each different place the same as Thompson did, seeing how much things had changed since Thompson's writing's from the sixties.

I took pleasure in reading this book. Travel writ
Apr 29, 2014 HeavyReader rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Hunter S. Thompson and/or South America and/or contemporary travel memoirs
I just found out I won this book through a First Reads drawing. Will write a review once I've read it.

04-11-14 Just received this book. Going to put it high on the to-read stack.

04-29-14 Following the Hunter S. Thompson trail through South America is a great premise that gives Brian Kevin a structure for his travels through the continent. He does a good job weaving together information about Hunter S. Thompson and his travels in South America in the early 1960's, the history of various South Am
Apr 15, 2015 Augusta rated it really liked it
Shelves: gonzo
I read this while I was travelling around South America which made this book particularly interesting for me. Brian Kevin does an excellent job weaving his journeys with Hunter 's back in the 60s, as well as discussions of the political situations of the countries compared to how Hunter found the countries.

As a big-time Hunter fan, I really loved this because it gives a sense of what Hunter was like as a young man as well as reflecting on how his trip to South America helped to turn him into th
Suzanne Moore
Brian Kevin is on a quest to visit South America's hinterlands. As an admirer of Hunter Thompson's work, this journalist compares the path Thompson traveled and wrote about in Dispatches from South America to his own journey down “the same road.” I personally haven’t read any of Thompson’s South American adventures but I had previously read about his times in Las Vegas. After reading the comparison these trips, I can say Kevin's visit to South America was eye-opening, but not necessarily “under ...more
Sep 30, 2014 Lissa rated it really liked it
Brian Kevin was at a crossroads in his own life and in search of the same elusive enlightenment that Hunter S. Thompson found during his trek across South America. Thompson’s reporting from South America, while not as well read as his gonzo style journalism, proved to be a turning point in his view of America and the American life. Kevin endeavored to discover what exactly Thompson encountered in South America that made such an impression. Starting in Columbia and making his way through Peru, Bo ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Stephen rated it liked it
As an author back in 1963, Hunter S. Thompson enjoyed an advantage that Brian Kevin author of “The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America,” does not today.

That was the fact South America was an important part of President John F. Kennedy's foreign policy, whereas, ever since, the giant land continent to the south has fallen into something of a black hole.

When Thompson took off for a year of writing and life experience, he was after evidence that what Kenn
Katie Lawrence
Jan 04, 2016 Katie Lawrence rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, nonfiction
Reviewed for the Library Journal: When he was 25 years old, before he became a larger-than-life gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson (1937–2005) traveled across South America writing, indulging himself, and forming the opinions that would influence him throughout his career. Long intrigued by Thompson's early travels, writer Kevin decided to follow in his footsteps, not only to develop his own sense of South America, but also to discover how Thompson's travels affected him. What follows is a fan ...more
Mercedes Flowers
Apr 13, 2014 Mercedes Flowers rated it really liked it
Without giving too much away, I learned a truly surprising amount from this book - about Hunter Thompson, South America, American history, and about how great minds think and write. I really recommend it to anyone interested in these sorts of things, as I understand they aren't for every reader.

I received The Footloose American as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
Aug 24, 2014 Kathi rated it really liked it
very well written. unsurprisingly, I'm planning to backpack around South America. would have been interesting to read from a female perspective.
Apr 13, 2015 katie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-in-2014
Part memoir, part historical research, part political commentary. Just the kind of thing I love to read. Follow Brian through the Hunter S. Thompson trail and learn about what has and hasn't changed since the Cold War, what South America is like, what it feels like to rip through a bumpy field in the back of a pickup truck, how US politics affect South Americans, or what it feels like to navigate a working mine with him. I seriously couldn't put this book down. Smart, engaging, occasionally funn ...more
Kelly Ferguson
May 02, 2015 Kelly Ferguson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, tavelogue
Kevin makes for an enthusiastic and thoughtful travel companion as journeys through South America, retracing a journey Hunter S. Thompson made his gonzo days. Kevin's wry cultural observations helped me piece together a continent that I, except for a brief trip to Ecuador years ago, know very little about. Bit by bit, he weaves his small story against larger political contexts and the South America Thompson saw in 1963, creating a both entertaining and satisfying read. More than a dude abroad bo ...more
Mar 04, 2015 Curt rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2014 Holly rated it liked it
I didn't care much for the all the Thompson juxtapositions but I did enjoy reading about the author's own travel experiences
Mar 07, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
My husband and I both read this book after watching the football World Cup reignited interest in South America. This book gave me some insight into the political history of some country's and the first half was lighter reading when he travelled with a friend . It seemed the author did learn some of what he was seeking . Worthwhile reading .
Sep 04, 2015 Lucija rated it liked it
A good read, yet somewhat frustrating. Instead of letting himself experience something new he was chasing past experiences that are impossible to recreate. I thought he will retracing the steps in geographical way and letting it happen. Instead he was searching for unreachable.
Diane Killion
Diane Killion marked it as to-read
May 17, 2016
Patrick Cooley
Patrick Cooley marked it as to-read
May 13, 2016
Samantha Huddleston
Samantha Huddleston marked it as to-read
May 04, 2016
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I’m a writer who contributes to magazines, travel guidebooks, and the occasional website. I’m also a contributing editor at Down East magazine and the author of The Footloose American, forthcoming from Broadway Books in May of 2014.

I like the outdoors, public lands policy, American history, beer, people with interesting jobs, the Grateful Dead, and airport newsstands.

Some of my stories have been r
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“stepping out of the airport into coastal Colombia is like getting bludgeoned with a sack of wet laundry.” 0 likes
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