Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72
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Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  11,628 ratings  ·  524 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

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Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 20th 2006 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 28th 1973)
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Melki
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...more
Richard
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...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 25, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Brian
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
Brian
Jul 28, 2008 Brian rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
gaby
Apr 16, 2008 gaby rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
B
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
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...more
Annie
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
Rebecca
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
Jeff
Every time I read Hunter Thompson, I wonder what people who aren't into drugs of any kind think of this dude.

Still, I can't think of another book (that I'd actually feel like reading) that takes so much care -- to the extent that one can apply that word to Thompson's work -- with the Thomas Eagleton "affair," as its referred to in the text.

(Tangentially, I find myself contemplating how difficult it would be to use the word "affair" today to describe something other than sex.)

The action here is...more
Mack Simpson
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
Tamara
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
Seth Kupchick
Feb 15, 2014 Seth Kupchick rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Tom Nixon
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
Marvin
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
Elizabeth
Jan 27, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Will Dean
(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....more
Lady
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...more
Zur Tar Nung
Hunter S. Thompson ist ein großartiger Journalist, aber vor allem auch ein begnadeter Schriftsteller.
So war es schon mal die Fiktion, die mir in diesem Buch die politische Realität näher brachte.
Trotzdem drängte sich mir nicht der Eindruck auf, dass er versucht mich um eine eigene Sicht zu beschupsen.
Zwar werden Ereignisse emotional aufgeladen und auch der Wahlkampf subjektiv beurteilt, aber er arbeitet dabei so umfassend wie nur möglich.
Gonzo Journalismus bedeutet: An Demonstrationen teilneh...more
Dustin Gaughran
I intentionally waited for the presidential election (2012) to roll around again before I finally decided to read this. My mind set kind of gets radicalized when it comes time to watch the ugly process begin again, and that's the mindset I wanted to be in when I read this. I already know I like Thompsons writing. I just wanted to read his coverage on an election while one was about to wind down. Needless to say, I loved the book. I also liked the introduction by Matt Taibbi, enough to go pick up...more
Allee
A fun trip through the 72 campaign... recommend it if you like HST or horse race politics, obvs. Sometimes it got super into the wonky politics of it all, dissecting polls and convention strategies etc, and if it wasn't doing that it was totally losing the thread while HST dived deep into some digressive tangent. Still amazing how much it rings true today though. Matt Taibbi wrote an introduction saying this book basically introduced the cliches that campaign journalists still use today, and tha...more
Hadrian
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....more
Elizabeth
Loathsome. Wry. Biting. Witty. Takes no prisoners.
Analysis and keen observation at it's best.

Will return to review.

Paul Kearney
Hunter's year long journey on the Nixon winning campaign trail of 72 reads like a modern day first person blog. Remarkable in that someone so well.. Hunter like got so far inside the political bubble.In respect to this and to anti war candidate McGovern the famous gonzo style is toned down or maybe just fazing in and out depending sobriety.Whatever the case what u get is possible fiction more honest than truth.U could replace the name's Nixon/McGovern to Obama/Romney without anyone noticing it w...more
Gobasso
Is this history? memoir? Who can classify Thompson. After reading "Nixonland" this book was a great compliment to that wild year in American History, even if seen through the opinionated, drug addled brain of Hunter S. Thompson. I have to agree with the author of the introduction. This ultimately is a book about Thompson's falling in and out of love with McGovern and the American electorate.
traci
The most fun I've had reading in a long, long time. Made me nostalgic for the days when political conventions meant something and political journalism got to the guts; granted, I never actually lived through either of these things but I hope to one day.
Raegan Butcher
When the man was in his prime, before the booze and coke whittled his talent down to a sputtering winking flame, he could really write. This is an example of what he was capable of before the whore of fame came to claim him.
Ashley
Curse you Goodreads for not allowing half star ratings! Because now I have to decide between 3 (which is just alright) and 4 (which is a really good book). I guess I'll have to think about it as I write this...

I picked this up at a used bookstore on a recommendation from my dad, who was thinking of random authors I might like. I've been in a funk lately with the things I've been reading, so I welcomed the change.

Politics is not normally my thing, so the fact that I'm giving it at least three sta...more
Matt
In this historic and so important election year I though it was only appropriate to re-visit this title...Miss ya Doc.
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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...
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas The Rum Diary Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (The Gonzo Papers, #1) Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

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“When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.” 828 likes
“With the truth so dull and depressing, the only working alternative is wild bursts of madness and filigree.” 218 likes
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