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Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,363 Ratings  ·  639 Reviews

Hilarious, terrifying, insightful, and compulsively readable, these are the articles that Hunter S. Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone magazine while covering the 1972 election campaign of President Richard M. Nixon and his unsuccessful opponent, Senator George S. McGovern. Hunter focuses largely on the Democratic Party's primaries and the breakdown of the national party as

Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 20th 2006 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1973)
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Dec 07, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics
Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?

As Thompson's reputation precedes him, I had no clue what to expect from this book. The drug-addled ramblings of a drunken madman, perhaps? Imagine my surprise to find his writing to be sharp, clear, keenly observant, and funny as hell.

Oh, the madman pops up now and then with lines like - ...I was bored from bad noise on the radio and half-drunk from doing off a quart of Wild Turkey between the Chicago and Alt
Sean Wilson
Hunter S. Thompson's political epic Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is a spiritual sequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson continues his scathing and satirical, as well as retrospective, critique of the sixties and early seventies. No other writer has written so well on those years.

Campaign Trail... is a scathing account of American politics and presidential campaigns. Thompson's journey centers on the McGovern-Nixon '72 election. Like a massive drug trip, the book gradual
May 07, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever since first seeing Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas and hearing more about Hunter S Thompson and his journalistic work I made it a mission in life to read as much of his material as possible and this is possibly his crowning jewel in my opinion, followed closely by his account of living with the Hell's Angels in the aptly titled Hell's Angels.

There's no way of truly pinning down what makes this such a great read, although if you are familiar with Thompson you know you will enjoy his seethin
Joe Soltzberg
Feb 03, 2016 Joe Soltzberg rated it it was amazing
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 is a high-speed drive through the world of politics with none other than Hunter S. Thompson in the driver's seat (with a glass of Wild Turkey in his lap and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, and laughers in the trunk). For readers familiar with his earlier works, F&L on the Campaign Trail reads like Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga mixed with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The blended style is great and makes fo ...more
May 17, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
The year was 1972 but it could be 2012--heck, it could be nearly ANY year! Hunter S. Thompson covers the "truth" behind the 1972 campaign to either reelect the very divisive and seemingly unpopular President Richard Nixon, or elect one of a slew of potential Democratic candidates. In 1972 Nixon was seen as weak, with the VERY unpopular Vietnam War winding down, but far from over and only dim hope that the troops would be home soon. An economy that was increasingly under the grips of what could b ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: nascent or long-term political junkies

The first time Hunter S. Thompson met Richard Nixon, they talked about football. American football, that is. This was during Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, and the prerequisite of Nixon’s handlers; the boss is stressed out from running around the country, they told Thompson, and he doesn’t need someone yelling at him about Vietnam or civil rights. You can ride in the back of the car with him for an hour or so in New Hampshire, they told him, but you have to promise to keep the conversation
Jun 08, 2016 Maryann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
5:14 a.m. my phone went off this morning. It was a robo call from some local candidate- today was the California Primary. Jesus! I already mailed in a ballot, but now that some vicious bastard has me up, I might as well sketch out this review...

Dr. Thompson was a little weird. He knew it, embraced it, ran with it, wrote with it. His style fits perfectly with the characters (the candidates) that I wish more journalists would adopt his style. "Gonzo" journalism they would eventually call it, and H
Jan 28, 2014 B rated it liked it
So first off: this book is important. Thompson captures a volatile time in history, both politically and socially. He covers McGovern v. Nixon well but, more importantly, he speaks to the layman's outlook on politics: the corruption, the greed, the confusion, the madness. In his drug and alcohol stupors, Thompson manages to be more honest about the American political process than anyone else. It begs the question: if it takes being that strung out to accurately describe our system, isn't it time ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 25, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think they don't care about politics
Forget Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics. Even forget All the President's Men and The Selling of the President. Especially forget the overrated Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. The greatest book on a political campaign of all time is Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

Any author can look back at a campaign, but Thompson, despite being drunk or high or hung over for the duration of the election, predicted the future. He f
HST is a hell of a writer, not just for his drugs. Few others make journalism so venomous, and political squabbles so interesting.

It's rather fitting that this is the 40th anniversary edition, re-released in one of the most spectacular train wrecks in years. One wonders, if HST lived, what he would have had to say about this pack of loonies.

HST, as cynical as he wants to be, still has a bit of idealism buried in him somewhere, that a Democrat lesser evil will prevail over the tyranny of Nixon.
Amanda Webb
I miss Hunter S Thompson. He may have been a mad drug crazed writer, but his turn of phrase and his descriptions of decadence have always appealed to me. Any time I see Wild Turkey in a bar I order a shot as a secret tribute to him, even though whiskey isn't usually my thing.

Reading Fear and Loathing on The Campaign Trail seems like more of an insight into what it must have been like to prize work out of Hunter S Thompson than anything else. I didn't really learn anything about American Politics
Jul 28, 2008 Brian rated it liked it
Recommends it for: the political horse-race set
The most striking aspect of Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 to a reader in the summer of 2008 (me) is the parallel between 1972 and 2008. As an unpopular war rages, the anointed establishment candidate, replete with a massive lead in endorsements from the major players, loses the inevitable Democratic nomination to an insurgent change candidate, in part because the former has to explain away earlier support for the war the latter opposed from the start. And the Democratic nominee pu ...more
Apr 16, 2008 gaby rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: junkies of all types; historians
Shelves: new-journalism
I have a longstanding affection for reading books in the locations at which the books take place. I developed this interest during an apoplectic fit of maudlin sophomoricism when, at 18, I spent the summer in Paris reading everything possible connected to 20th century literature in that city (the collected volumes of Anais Nin's diaries, Henry Miller's Parisian fantasies, even that Hemingway book that only starts in Paris (The Sun Also Rises?), all those surrealist manifestos, Andre Breton's ine ...more
Michael Burnam-fink
Mar 01, 2016 Michael Burnam-fink rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction, 2016
There's a certain shame in going back to books which were important in your adolescence. How did I think this was wise? How did I even think this was good? Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is an incredibly uneven book, written on the downslope of Thompson's meteoric career but still showing a guttering flicker of his genius. Stapled together out of a year of Rolling Stone columns, Thompson covers the '72 Nixon-McGovern campaign in his own inimitable style: a mix of drug fantasy experi ...more
Mar 12, 2011 Annie rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this a lot, but in a kind of disgusted way. It was really interesting (I learned a lot about politics). It was also pretty depressing (I learned a lot about politics). I do really enjoy Hunter S. Thompson's crazed writing style, and the fact that he doesn't really mind offending people and will tell it like it is regardless makes it probably more of an informative book on this election than you might find elsewhere. I probably wouldn't recommend it if you're a Republican, but in that c ...more
Jan 27, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anybody even slightly interested in the current election
All I can say is, "Fear and Loathing" is pretty closely associated with how I feel after reading this book. An immensely enthralling read (I read over 300 pages just today- couldn't put it down); scarily similar to the presidential race currently transpiring. The end of the book is heartbreaking; although we all know how history unfolded (4 more years of Nixon), I couldn't help but root for McGovern's campaign, senselessly and against all logic. It reminds of me how I felt four years ago, drinki ...more
Nov 19, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
The vision was to read this book during the 2012 Presidential Campaign to remind myself of the craziness that is politics. My timing was a bit off, but I was reading it during the general election. Hunter S. Thompson wrote this 40 years ago, and the tragedy is that its themes indeed are timeless: greed, power, conviction, failure, etc. etc. etc. He follows the campaign from the very early primary elections, all the way through the end of the general election. I think what keeps it so compelling ...more
Mack Simpson
Jul 10, 2011 Mack Simpson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are a few books-- very few-- I read that, after I've finished and if they've left an impression on me, I track down and purchase an original 1st edition printing of it to put up on my shelf (perhaps my daughter will read them one day and have a better understanding of who I am; maybe I just like to collect beautiful things). This is one of those books. It's a rare feat to be both timely and classic, and regardless of when you pick this one up, you'll find Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign ...more
Woah. The politics are more or less incomprehensible to me, but ocassionally things float up. It's hard to tell how much of Hunter's writing is something of a very good stylistic schtick and how much is the guy losing his mind. The writing is often great, and his loathing of Nixon so eloquent that I (with the priveledge of being from the future) almost felt bad for him at times, in a rooting for the narrative underdog way. The turn from regular, chemical junkie to political junkie is interesting ...more
Al Young
Jan 25, 2015 Al Young rated it it was amazing
As a political (and HST) junkie, I knew I had to eventually tackle this famous work. One thing that stands out is that HST is a pretty pragmatic guy. He is pretty liberal, but he’s not nutty liberal, and he has a pretty well-reasoned stance. On top of that, he had keen political insight. Obviously, he was an outsider, but there’s no doubt he knew his stuff. Four decades removed, we may think of HST as a self-parody, or more exactly, we’ve been fed shadows of HST parody and influence (HST’s book ...more
Eric Fitzsimmons
Echoes Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo take on the 1972 presidential election was such an obvious choice for this year I thought I’d have to start bribing some young journalism majors who snagged itfor class back in September months before we really thought the chaos would endure past Iowa and New Hampshire. I’m sitting on a pile of to-read books and put in an order for one of the few copies at the Free Library of Philadelphia figuring by the time it worked its way through everyone who wanted some co ...more
Seth Kupchick
Feb 15, 2014 Seth Kupchick rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in politics
Recommended to Seth by: Mike Litzow
I'm not sure what to say about Hunter S. Thompson's career that hasn't been said, and lord knows he doesn't need more fans (I do!), but this is such a great unfrogettable instructional book on politics at a certain time in a certain place, that it's hard to ignore, and may be his crowning achievement as a writer. Thomspson is both observer and actor in this book, an amphibious character, and he immerses just enough in the campaign to wrap his head around America, while staying enough inside of h ...more
That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you.
-Robinson Jeffers

Reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 during the 2016 primary season really drives home the point that the cynical view of politics is in fact the most accurate. The inner workings and machinations of a well-run campaign have so little to do with what the averag
Jan 03, 2015 Olivia rated it really liked it
I really liked this book a lot, and I liked the style and the honesty. I was literally reading parts of this book out loud to friends and family. (Not everyone reacted positively to this.) The things that impressed me were the humility of his self-opinion (probably not something frequently associated with HST but he admits when he is wrong, misled etc.), the freshness of his approach, and the ability to trust the reader to think for himself.

The best part of the book is either the ending - which
Tom Nixon
Jul 27, 2011 Tom Nixon rated it it was amazing
I went through this book like a buzzsaw through a piece of wood. It helps that I love Hunter S. Thompson to begin with- I love his style, his meandering prose, his blending and blurring of fact and fiction, his general drug-taking, booze drinking hedonistic lifestyle that just seems like a hurricane of insane... fun. Not that I'm saying I'd be OK with taking large amounts of narcotics these days, but had I been around back in the 70s, I have a feeling I would have been growing long, shaggy, 'Daz ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 04, 2012 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hunter Thompson fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
How does one classify a book which is ostensibly a journalistic account of the 1972 presidential campaign but is actually more about its author, both essayist about (Thompson is loose, very loose, with the facts) and participant in the events he describes? With misgivings, I classify this as autobiography--albeit, again, loose, very loose, with the facts.

This is not Thompson's best book. Hell's Angels and Fear and Loathing in LasVegas are both better. Indeed, it is pretty clear that this was a h
Dec 06, 2009 Marvin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
My second favorite novel of Thompson's after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Campaign Trail '72 is the epitome of the gonzo journalism experience. The author has just the right amount of straight journalism and personal experience which of course includes some of his own outrageous reactions and opinions. The amazing thing is how much he got right. His predictions were pretty much correct. We now know that the Democrat Party really did sabotage the McGovern campaign and were fine with four years ...more
Will Dean
Feb 04, 2012 Will Dean rated it liked it
(Side note: if you're a political junkie or reading this during a presidential campaign add another star)

The most surprising thing about this book wasn't that Thompson's out-of-control style had aged well (for the most part), but that he really was a very incisive political reporter. I always liked Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but a lot of his political writing (for ESPN and other outlets) I saw in the decade before he died sounded like the rehashing of an once important counter-culture icon.
Dec 07, 2015 LadyReezy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somehow, despite reading all his other major works, I made it to my 30s without reading HST's opus. And then the 40th anniversary edition came out, with a forward by my favorite contemporary journalist, Matt Taibbi. And since we're in an election year, I decided I'd punish myself with the sad and frustrating story of McGovern alongside the media bombardment of Obama-Romney coverage. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.

What makes this book excellent is how intimate it is despite taking o
Mar 15, 2016 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Although many champion Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as his true masterpiece, I would have to argue that it is his "Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail" that truly shows his talent and uniqueness as a journalist. While "Las Vegas" is a drugged up voyage into the "heart of the American dream," "On the Campaign Trail"--although still considerably drugged up--seems to me a more coherent and true portrait of the America Thompson is trying to depict. While he shows the candidates in ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: # 6 Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 1 4 Apr 20, 2016 11:19AM  
  • The Boys on the Bus
  • The New Journalism
  • The Joke's Over: Ralph Steadman on Hunter S. Thompson
  • Spanking the Donkey: Dispatches from the Dumb Season
  • Outlaw Journalist
  • Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
  • The Vintage Mencken
  • The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History
  • In Search of History
  • Hunter: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson
  • Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World's Worst Places and Asks, "What's Funny About This"
  • Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man
  • The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays
  • Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000
  • The Selling of the President
  • Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
  • The Kitchen Readings: Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson
  • Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression
Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author, famous for his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become the central figures of their stories. He is also known for his promotion and use of psychedelics and other mind-altering substanc ...more
More about Hunter S. Thompson...

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“When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.” 957 likes
“With the truth so dull and depressing, the only working alternative is wild bursts of madness and filigree.” 259 likes
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