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The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  698 ratings  ·  56 reviews
"The most straightforward account of a Chicano's journey in search of a dream..." - The Los Angeles Times
Paperback, 204 pages
Published July 17th 1989 by Vintage Books (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,201)
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Joel Ortiz-Quintanilla
Jul 22, 2008 Joel Ortiz-Quintanilla rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: white people
Recommended to Joel by: a professor of law
I read this book, many years ago, and i try to get others to read it. I loved it back then, it was different from the other chicano literature i was reading, in fact it was never mentioned, but i found it and i thoroughly enjoyed it. Yeah, he is a big character, and his writing is ecstatic, and sometimes i do think it is better that fear and loathing, but its probably the mexican in me saying that, but i do recommend this book to others, i think the last chapter says a lot, it affected me very m ...more
Bruce Martin
When Oscar appears before a judge in Mexico facing the charges of “those nasty things, vile language, gringo arrogance, and americano impatience,” (193), we see a confluence of labels that the narrator has taken upon himself, shaken from himself throughout the novel: he is a lawyer without a license, an educated man who cannot speak the language of his father, an American without papers to prove it, a long-haired Californian who is not a hippie, one who decries corruption in Mexico yet has done ...more
I found this book lying around in a dingy used book shop in Jammu and bought it for Rs. 30. Partly because I needed to know the story of The Great Brown Buffalo, but mostly out of the grief I felt for the state in which lay the autobiography of one of the most interesting characters the sixties managed to puke out. OSCAR ZETA ACOSTA! The infamous attorney Dr. Gonzo to Hunter S Thompson's Raoul Duke! Whom he gazed upon in complete awe and famously exclaimed “There he goes. One of God's own protot ...more
Nacho Beltran
the only book i will review, this book is important to me for reasons most people won't understand. it makes me proud of my culture as a CHICANO in america and gives me an identity i did not know i had. this book should be read by every mexican american, and appreciated because it is one of the most important books on the regards of chicano literature, also the revolt of the cockroach people is bad ass, another important book. Oscar Zeta Acosta is the shiiiittt!
Michael Pronko
I give this only 4 stars for other people, but for myself it's 5 and then some. This riveting account of coming of age in America as an outsider, an experimenter with life, a confused individual, is moving, honest and real as a punch in the gut. Reading it again after a couple decades this year, i was struck again about how the words connect to the realities. Most memoir, autobiography and self-opening writing skirts around things compared to this work. Acosta gets right to what makes people gro ...more
Cole Perry
A rollicking wonderful journey of self discovery or a narcissistic, drug fueled maniacal road trip through the southwest.
This book is vile! and disgusting! and yet it's like a distant relative whose spirit you see and you go 'he's cool'.
Gabriel Oak
Acosta was a lawyer and activist who played a prominent role in many events during the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This book is a semi-fictional account of his childhood and journey to political consciousness. It is also a record of the insanity and chaos of 60s counterculture. Acosta famously befriended the "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and was the model for Dr. Gonzo, the "Samoan" attorney in Thompson's novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Brown Buffalo is an ...more
I don't quite know what to say about this book. There are a lot of different voices running through each chapter, bouncing through the pages with energy and urgency. And by a lot, I of course mean just one, that of Oscar Zeta Acosta, the self-proclaimed Brown Buffalo. Acosta is a Chicano. And from what I can gather from the many Chicanos in my own life, being a Chicano is emotionally confusing. One is both here and there, Mexican and American, Aztec and Spanish, traditional and nonconforming, as ...more
Mquin Quintana
In The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo, Acosta presents an account of his identity quest as a “Brown Buffalo,” traveling across the southwestern United States into Juarez, Mexico after rejecting his San Francisco identity as a lawyer. Acosta defines “Brown Buffalo” as an identity one chooses as a result of being neither a Mexican nor an American in the United States. According to Acosta, this identity is the solution for the future of Chicano representation in the 1960’s.
On his identity quest
Arturo Hilario
As a social footnote to the Xicana/o movement in the late 60's and 70's this book has a larger than life feel to the story, nay legend, that was Oscar Zeta Acosta. Following his experiences as a Mexican-American youth in the Southwest, as well as beyond into his adolescence and eventual foray into the military, then as a lawyer for the under served in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'd recommend this to anyone interested in this part of Latina/o history, as well as anyone who likes adventurous, humo
An wild, unruly book. Oscar Acosta clears the hell out of Flower Power San Francisco and out onto the open road, flashing back to drug trips, his friends in low places , the daily hell of working poverty law, being among white hippies, and the violence of his poor Mexican upbringing. He doesn't spare you his ulcers, his bodily functions, or what he thinks of his fat, brown body. Some of the writing about women and his heartbreak is wince-worthy. And some of the blow by blow drug trips get tediou ...more
Looking forward to reading the sequel, Revolt of the Cockroach People, which I think (& hope) deals more with his work as a Chicano civil rights agitator. Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo takes us from Acosta's short and farsical stint at Legal Aid family law practice to his drug/alcohol induced roadtrip through the Midwest and down memory lane. Reaching rock bottom, and gaining better clarity on the complexities of identity in America than his shrink ever gave him, Acosta's journey, spiritu ...more
Emma Kelly
I'm a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson and I knew Oscar Zeta Acosta was the 'Samoan lawyer' in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" so I knew I had to read this book eventually.

I was quite pleasantly surprised, this was not the rip off of HST that I expected. Acosta has his own unique voice when writing. I found myself drawn into the character of the "Brown Buffalo," and how he became a hippie and a Chicano activist.
Oct 26, 2008 Rikemiley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Amazing and engaging look into the development of Oscar Zeta Acosta. Hunter S. Thompson makes a late cameo appearance, foreshadowing the delights to come in the sequel. The book follows the author as his world falls apart and he begins a mission to find himself... with the help of booze and drugs of course. Between episodes on his reality bending journey, Acosts sprinkles hellarious snip-its from his childhood to help explain the development into a pseudo-adulthood full of angst and determinatio ...more
Anne Thessen
May 02, 2009 Anne Thessen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Mexican American history, the 1960s counter culture or Hunter Thompson
Recommended to Anne by: ricky
This book is actually fairly important. It is a memoir by a leader in the "brown power" movement in the 1960s, which is something one doesn't hear much about. The author was friends with Hunter Thompson (he's the guy Thompson travels with in FEAR AND LOTHING IN LAS VEGAS). As far as readability goes, the author's sentence structure is a bit difficult, but this became less of a problem as I read more of the book. I'm not sure if that's because I got used to his writing or if his writing improved. ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Dan added it
If you didn't already know, Oscar Acosta is the real-life version of Hunter Thompson's 'attorney' from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Acosta was a public defense attorney who was critical in the 'Brown Power' movement in the Sixties and Seventies. And, yes, if you're all wondering: he did partake in massive amounts of drugs and was a wild man. A great read
Fantastic book. Great, underappreciated masterpiece. If you love Hunter Thompson, specifically Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the character of the Samoan attorney, the author of this book is the real person that character was based on, and an incredible writer on his own merits. Worthy of Thompson and maybe even then some.
Rob Charpentier
In many ways, this book stomps all over any possible comparisons to Hunter S. Thompson. Oscar even makes a claim that his style was stolen from him by Thompson. Whatever the case may be, this is a fiercely brazen little book and it becomes clear that he was without a doubt and charismatic and equally dangerous individual that is deserving of having a reputation all his own out of the shadow of his more famous friend. Highly recommended.
Brown power indeed. It was good to put a voice to Hunter's infamous 'samoan' attorney.
I was most impressed by how honestly and candidly he described not being mexican enough for mexicans and not being american enough for americans. Having to forge an identity instead of relying on one by birth is difficult and maddening and beautiful.
I was reading Hunter S Thompson's 'Gonzo Letters II' concurrently... now somebody pass me the ether.
May 17, 2011 V rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: z2011
A set of recent drug adventures interspersed with more lucid episodes from the author's youth. I haven't read Cockroach People so it is difficult to gauge whether or not these tales provide the necessary background to understand Acosta's later involvement in the Chicano movement. It is too bad it is difficult to see Acosta except through one's preconceptions of him as HS Thompson's "Samoan" attorney.
responsible gonzo-ism.

a contemporary of hunter thompson, acosta is just a lost in the wake of the sixties and just as into drugs & booze but channels his disaffection into being the house lawyer for chicano activists in los angeles in the early 70s. this and 'revenge of' are great, well-written gonzo pieces but also a really optimistic takes on a period of time where a lot of people where into apathy.

Leonard Pierce
Oscar Zeta Acosta was the radical Latino lawyer upon whom "Dr. Gonzo" in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was based. It's easy to see why Thompson found him so compelling, and his work, while spotty and inconsistent, is a pretty fun read.
This author is the Dr. Gonzo of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Now you can read the other half of the story, y'know like how they say the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus.
An important book in Chicano literature. A fairly uncompromising biography - kind of coming of age - or at least coming into one's own. Well worth the ride. This is The Samoan Attorney from Fear and Loathing.
This book took a life of its own! I have mixed feelings about one of the topics touched on, but that comes down to personal experience. Acosta really brought me into his post modern world encouraging me to question societal boundaries in America and how they are changing or if they are changing enough not only based on ethnicity, but on topics allowed to be openly discussed.
I also read this book many years ago and have been pushing it on others to read. The agony of hanging between worlds is felt by many and is described by so few. His writing shows the difficulty and multiple personalities, almost, that are needed to survive this way. His disapearance occured before his genius was discovered by the masses unlike Hunter S. Thompson.
Karen Mahtin
Started reading this right after reading Tomas Moniz's Bellies and Buffalos (novella). I read some of the beat-era writers and this fits with that genre up until close to the end (but how can he remember the exact details of each conversation?). Then it becomes like a lot of Latin@ coming-of-age/finding out who you are stories that I've read.
Only slightly less manic than his cohort Hunter S. Thompson, Acosta is the real-life Lawyer character made famous in 'Fear and Loathing'. Their writing styles are so similar that one must've had a major influence on the other. The question is, which one? Either way, stuff by both of these guys take me back to so much Henry Miller and Bukowsky.
A sputtering, drug-propelled, disgustingly honest first-person account of life in the Bay Area and beyond in the late 1960s told by Hunter S. Thompson's "attorney" from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". Lucid moments and societal epiphanies are sandwiched between super human debaucheries.
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(April 8, 1935 – disappeared 1974) was an American attorney, politician, minor novelist and Chicano Movement activist, perhaps best known for his friendship with the American author Hunter S. Thompson, who included him as a character the Samoan Attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in his acclaimed novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
More about Oscar Zeta Acosta...
The Revolt of the Cockroach People Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo (Vintage International) Oscar "Zeta" Acosta: The Uncollected Works La revuelta del pueblo cucaracha Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo

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