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The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time

(The Gonzo Papers #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  11,498 ratings  ·  325 reviews
The first volume in Hunter S. Thompson’s bestselling Gonzo Papers offers brilliant commentary and outrageous humor, in his signature style.

Originally published in 1979, the first volume of the bestselling “Gonzo Papers” is now back in print. The Great Shark Hunt is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s largest and, arguably, most important work, covering Nixon to napalm, Las Vegas to W
Paperback, 624 pages
Published 2003 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1979)
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Arthur Graham
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Gets bogged down with minutiae at points, but then this is where we often find some of HST's keener insights re: sports, politics, and everything else, after all the bullshit has been laboriously shoveled, scraped, and swept away. Quite a lot to wade through, but if you're anything like me, you'd probably rather hear it from a drug-addled maniac with no claim to objectivity than some shill for the New York Times.

HST was a remarkable thinker and writer, not only for pioneering a whole new form of
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

This collection of HST articles from the 1960s and 70s primarily focused on politics and sports, but it also touched on damn near every topic imaginable, including—thank god!—some of his hilarious (mis)adventures with outrageous amounts of highly illegal substances. While it contained quite a few intelligent insights and arguments, the real joy of reading this lunatic—at least for me—is to take a ride on his incomparably weird and manic waveleng
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chloe by: Matt Darnell
Readers who only know of Hunter S. Thompson from his acid-washed hunt for the American Dream in one of this countries most deranged metropolitan wastes will find a different sort of Hunter here. Given the man's talent for spectacle, pomposity and grand acts of destruction, it's easy for people to forget that before he was a legend, Hunter S. Thompson was a talented and capable journalist- one of those rare souls who was perfectly able to capture the flavor of the 60s zeitgeist, both its rapturou ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I stayed away from Thompson for a while, due to an impression I'd developed in part from a comic book I read as a kid called Transmetropolitan (which featured an ostensibly Thompson-like protagonist) and in part from the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, that his writing was cartoonish, overly preoccupied with trying to be funny, and basically not serious. I would say there are a few pieces here that really do fit that description ("The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved", supposedly th ...more
Benjamin Church
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
I came into reading this really long Thompson collection somewhat accidentally, but it shows that he is an extraordiary journalist with a convincing desire to pursue greater truths - an impression that really outshines the whimsical, drug-obsessed icon that he has been reduced to by the culture at large. Most of this book is about his experiences covering Richard Nixon and, given that we are at the height of another excessively arrogant conservative regime on the verge of self-destruction result ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"If I followed my better instincts right now, I would put this typewriter in the Volvo and drive to the home of the nearest politician -- any politician -- and hurl the goddamn machine through his front window ... flush the bugger out with an act of lunatic violence then soak him down with mace and run him naked down Main Street in Aspen with a bell around his neck and black lumps all over his body from the jolts of a high powered "Ball Buster" cattle prod.

But old age has either mellowed me or b
Chin Jian xiong
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Hunter S. Thompson defines everything good about journalism, despite extreme subjectivity, rampant decadence and pure mania. There's strange power in words, how Hunter seems more trustworthy than any other piece of longform work out there.

The last writer who had this impact on me was David Foster Wallace, due to how his extreme maximalism and constant introspection created the illusion that he was right there talking in your face. Well, while David Foster Wallace manifests himself as that philo
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the true Hunter S Thompson. Building his legend writing about whatever they throw at him and making it his own. It's easy to forget that despite his public persona, Thompson was a tremendous WRITER who could draw many emotions out of his readers. A personal favorite of mine and a book I never tire of.
THE GREAT SHARK HUNT: Gonzo Papers, Volume 1, Strange Tales from a Strange Time by Hunter S. Thompson

One of the best. An absolute must for every American, let alone Thompson fan - or journalist for that matter.

The following are a list of the articles from it that I have read, along with commentary and favorite quotes.

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved

A Southern City with Northern Problems

Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl

Jacket Copy for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savag
Matti Karjalainen
Hunter S. Thompsonin "Suuri hainmetsästys" (Sammakko, 2010) sisältää valikoiman gonzo-journalismin isän kirjallisia trippejä 1960- ja 1970-luvulta. Thompsonin persoonallisia tekstejä julkaistiin mm. Rolling Stonessa ja Playboyssa, ja niiden aiheet käsittelevät mm. ammattilaisurheilua, Yhdysvaltain poliittista kuohuntaa, hippiliikettä ja erilaisia päihteitä. Presidentti Richard Nixon joutuu erityisesti Dr. Gonzon hampaisiin, ja Watergate-skandaalin käsittely kattaakin "Suuren hainmetsästyksen" se ...more
Mar 03, 2013 rated it liked it
A little tedious. I think I've overdosed on Thompson. I thought some of his usual outrageousness was out of place and read like he was trying to hard to be crazy. A few good essays. I especially liked the one on Jean Claude Killy.
Thomas Tyrer
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Jr.
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, nonfiction
This is a must-read collection of Thompson's work from his prime in the mid-60s through late 70s. It collects, as no other volume does, his writing about the Brown Power movement that his friend Oscar Acosta was part of, his trials and tribulations with Richard Nixon (outside of the campaign in '72 and including Watergate), and the various fragments, features, and figments that came together to be Gonzo journalism.

Unlike Generation of Swine, Kingdom of Fear, Songs of the Doomed, and Hey Rube, th
C. Scott
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like strong blotter acid, Hunter Thompson is best enjoyed in small doses. The book takes forever to get through because who wants to sit down and plow through 50 pages of Thompson's rants at once? If you're going to appreciate his wit and his madness you need to take your time.

UPDATE - November 2018 - I finally decided to sit down and power through the rest of this book. At times exhausting, frequently thrilling, Hunter Thompson was a brilliant artist. I really admire a writer who can come up wi
May 21, 2009 added it

The STOP SMILING Downfall of American Publishing Issue dedicates 40 pages to an oral history of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, which includes interviews with collaborators and friends such as Ralph Steadman, Craig Vetter, wife Anita Thompson, PJ O'Rourke, and more.

About the issue, Slate media critic Jack Shafer wrote, "Stop Smiling's oral history of Hunter S. Thompson bested Rolling Stone's similarly constructed special issue about the Doctor in every way.

Rich Meyer
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
This book of Hunter S. Thompson essays and articles covers most of his early career, especially the time period when he was writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hell's Angels and the Watergate scandal. Many of these articles were incorporated into those other books, but a good portion of it hasn't been printed before outside of the original, now very-hard-to-find, periodicals.

This is vintage Thompson. He covers pop icons (Jean Claude Killy, Muhammad Ali) in a way that you wish even E! News co
Richard Schwindt
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This remains the best book for accessing the ouvre of Hunter S. Thompson. He remains one of the most unique voices of the late twentieth century, bringing anarchy into the news and substance abuse lit to the masses. He became in the end a parody of himself so it can be forgotten how good he really was. I suspect as time goes on more people will discover Gonzo journalism and of course try to emulate it. The classics are in this book, starting with the wonderful "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and ...more
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
While this book is a collection of other writings, it is like a best of Hunter S Thompson. I have never read anything in my life where there was so few lulls and yet so many memorable stories of the shark hunt as the title says, going through customs with a ton of drugs, going to the Kentucky Derby, writing on the culture of the 70's change from the spirit of the 60's. Hunter was truly a wild journalist whose kind may never be witnessed again but whose writing is undeniably a spirit of great Ame ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Some stories, like the eponymous Great Shark Hunt, and the Kentucky Derby one, are absolute classics. However, many of the gems get caught in between long stretches of relatively boring political coverage. I'd recommend it, though, especially if you aren't averse to picking and choosing among the best pieces.
Chris Bushman
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I know Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the "Great Work" for which he will be forever remembered and deservedly so. However, Shark Hunt is a kind of Penguin Reader of the Essential HST and as such is the indispensable survey of the glory years.

I read this six or eight times between the ages of 19 and 22. If you have a brain ripe for warping, crack this one some time.
Greg Strandberg
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This is a good book. I'm not going to pretend it's anything real special. I think it's more someone trying to milk it for all it's worth, actually. And that's just fine by me. Still, going back to Hell's Angels might be a better use of your time.
Kylie Poppen
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's a long-haul to get through...a lot of gonzo for one sitting, but quite a few of the pieces make it well worth it (and hence the 4 stars). Some excellent bits about San Francisco, California, and counterculture along with painstaking political trail journalism and self-deprecation.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Probably the book (collection of essays) that made me want to write.
Ernest Hogan
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Re-read it as the Trump Era got fired up. I'll probably be re-reading more Thompson in the next few years . . .
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having finally finished the 615 page behemoth that is The Great Shark Hunt, I have gotten a lot out of it. It gave fascinating insight into the world of HST, who had such an unusual lifestyle. Spread throughout the book are tales of his ridiculous and surreal adventures that make for an entertaining read. I have gained a respect for journalism and quality of writing in general as a result of feeling the passion and regard HST had for his work, despite the maelstrom chaos and debauchery that perm ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
this covers the breadth of thompson's early career, including chunks of his three major works: hell's angels, fear & loathing in las vegas, and fear & loathing on the campaign trail. thompson gets categorized too easily as a drug writer, both praised and dismissed for something that was only a small part of his repertoir. what's more interesting is the divergent and detailed path through which he catalogued the fringes of society: student radicals and brown power, sports fans and richard ...more
Jay Wright
Well, this is by the great Gonzo journalist. I am amazed at his insights at times. His views of Los Angeles, Peru, Argentina, Louisville and others is actually very illuminating. His rants on Richard Nixon get tiresome and take up too much of the book. I understand he did not like Nixon and that Nixon was bad, but it is clear that he did not like most politicians except McGovern and Carter. He thought Humphrey was as bad a s Nixon. I am not sure he was sane, but who says insane people cannot pro ...more
James Schlichter
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved the best of it. Even better than I expected. Gave me much deeper insight into HST the person than the myth. A great talent and knew it!

My only issue with the book is my birthdate. So many of the political players he writes about are of a different generation than when I became politically aware. The writing is strong, I just wasn't engaged by the details.

I definately recommend The Great Shark Hunt, but don't be afraid to skim. No guilt. There is much to love, love it!
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prior-to-gr
I read this years ago and remember loving every bit of it--except the journalism which was almost as boring as it is everywhere else.

The drug haze does make it a bit more interesting and a hell of a lot more entertaining. I might have to visit the plane flight again one day to find if it still makes me cry with laughter as it once did.

If you're looking for more Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas don't bother with this.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Fear and Loathing in the bunker, at the super bowl, at the Watergate, in Washington. These are just some of the titles of the stories here, so good to see that they got their monies worth out of that idea. I haven’t read Thompson since the 90s so I was interested to see what it would be like reading him now. At his best he is a passionate, gritty, bold and amusing scribe, who can get under the skin, but he is far from a great writer and I’m not sure it stands up so well now.

This is very much a m
HST's volumes of Gonzo Papers (The Great Shark Hunt is the first of four volumes) can be intimidating to even the avid reader: small-sized text with small margins means each of the nearly 600 pages are packed FULL of those things that make up a book we refer to as words. Luckily, because this is a compilation of essays, it breaks up the text nicely. In either case, a compelling read for sure - I am a huge HST fan so I sort of knew I would like it before reading it, but it's interesting to look b ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What the sub-title means by the "Gonzo Papers" is that this book is a Thompson sampler; It collects dozens and dozens of articles and book exceprts on subjects from covering the Kentucky Derby to race tension in LA following the slaying of a prominent Latino TV reporter to Muhammed Ali's loss to Leon Spinks to Nixon's impeachment and resulting fallout. I really liked this book - I was never bored, which is no easy feat considering the wide breadth of material covered and the sheer length (almost ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I will preface this review by stating that I thoroughly enjoyed Songs of the Doomed and loved Generation of Swine, which might not be salient to the average reader, but I have read a bunch of Hunter's stuff and this volume gave me a serious case of deja vu. Notwithstanding, it was enjoyable stuff to reread, but I was hoping for a repeat of the incredibly engrossing sense I got reading Songs for the first time... an impossible wish to fulfill, for any writer, let alone a dead one who prompted a n ...more
Kris Ashton
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few things are more enjoyable than reading an author at the height of his or her powers. Stephen King’s work in the early to mid-1980s comes immediately to mind – it seems to thrum with an energy that his newer stuff, while undoubtedly better crafted, just can’t match. The Great Shark Hunt exhibits Hunter S. Thompson at the peak of his writing prowess.

It’s a collection of political essays, the bulk of them from the early to mid-1970s and focusing on Richard Nixon’s campaign for a second term (f
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Asombrosa antología periodística a pesar de la traducción de Anagrama, que esta vez deja mucho que desear. Thompson produce una radiografía contracultural que en sus mejores momentos (La crónica sobre el asesinato del reportero Rubén Salazar por parte de la Policía de Los Ángeles, el perfil del esquiador francés Jean-Claude Killy) arranca la yugular de la sociedad estadounidense aburguesada de la posguerra y en sus momentos menos creativos o coherentes (la pesca-protesta de Marlon Brando, la res ...more
Jonathan Rose
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you are a fan of the Fear and Loathing books by Hunter Thompson, then many of the essays in this book will excite you just as much. His writing was unique. His writing was him. So if you didn't like him, or the thought of him, or the idea of what he represented then you will not enjoy his writing, simple as that. There is no disassociation here, he IS the stories he wrote, and that was the essence of Gonzo, at least that's how I perceive it. I personally love it, as his work was honest, and, ...more
Deborah Schuff
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This first volume of the Gonzo Papers collects articles from the '60's and 70's. I relived Watergate. I learned that LA police racist killings are not a new thing ("Strange Rumblings in Aztlan"). I learned about Beatniks, the Free Speech Movement, Mario Savio, Hells' Angels. I was touched by his memorial piece to his lawyer/friend Oscar Zeta Acosta ("The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat"). I voted for Jimmy Carter for President in my first election, but I had never known of his Law Day speech (A ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The anthology format is very helpful for you to see his development from an ordinary chemical-abusing foreign freelancer into the writer through whose eyes I saw some of the most important images of the '72 presidential campaign,Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 riots in hispanic Los Angeles, the Hell's Angels Hell's Angelsand the Freak Power campaign for Aspen Colorado local offices.
Tim Cantrell
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
They're all good. I can't keep up all this writing about H.S.T. He's my favorite modern author by far and probably holds top 3 or 5 of all time. He Just Had a way of looking at things and injected a whole new journalism, GONZO! Please give him a chance. He has many books with often a totally different feel altogether while sticking to His GONZO roots. I think once he tried to do a book in a more normal format and as far as I know he never did it again. He has a whole new generation of GONZO jour ...more
Aaron Dome
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
An excellent compilation of Thompson's work.

This collection may be a bit frustrating for fans who have already read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, FAL On the Campaign Trail '72, and Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, because it includes large portions of those works.

Most important (and most interesting) is the inclusion of some of Thompson's early work from first half of the 1960s, proving that Thompson could play it relatively "straight" with results just as engrossing as his later "
Darth Casanova
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it

The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time by Hunter S. Thompson

The first volume in Hunter S. Thompson’s bestselling Gonzo Papers offers brilliant commentary and outrageous humor, in his signature style.

Originally published in 1979, the first volume of the bestselling “Gonzo Papers” is now back in print. The Great Shark Hunt is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s largest and, arguably, most important work, covering Nixon to napalm, Las Vegas to Watergate, Carter to cocaine. These essays off

Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thompson was the quintessential voice of the American counter-culture during the 1960's and 70's. Thompson along with Wolfe engineered a new brand of journalism, one that Thompson would refer to as "Gonzo". Rather than just reporting on the story Thompson aimed at reporting on the story of getting the story.

Thompson is often mistaken for a drug addled, violent maniac, but he was so much more than that, as he also drank prodigiously. But, in fairness how else could a reporter capture the feel of
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Hunter S. Thompson had a fireplace view of the chaotic and tumultuous late 1960’s-early 1970’s. The Vietnam war was raging and the draft had set college-America on fire. The idea that a young man fresh out of high school or college could be forced to fight in the hell that was south Vietnam with no end in sight and body bags being sent home every day provoked an existential, politically explosive reaction. Against this historical background we find Thompson: A freelance journalist with an incre ...more
Nick Mesha
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
By far the best Hunter book I have read. With levity and wit, Hunter cuts right to the nut of societies problems, which mostly all still exist today. This book is split into four parts covering his writing from 1960-1970s. Here are some of my favorite passages.

"Fear and Loathing in the Bunker". The New York Times, 1974

On a need to know basis, the milkman and I understood that I was not among the needy. Nor was he, for that matter. We were both a lot happier just doing what we were told.

George O
Willow Redd
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What can one say about Hunter S. Thompson that hasn't already been said? He was a madman, a genius, and an excellent writer. Collected here are several of his greatest pieces, such as "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," which show his mastery of the written word and his search for an absolute truth in his writing which would be the birth of Gonzo. This same truth, unfortunately, also created the character of "Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, wild man of the ages" that would eventually burn out ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lots of variety here. Hunter S Thompson got put on a lot of great journalistic assignments and I really enjoyed getting a longer term perspective of how he fit into American culture from the 60s to the 70s. There are great portraits here of Muhammad Ali, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter in particular. Thompson's style was a real boon when it comes to getting the real story, and it's really something just picturing how such an outlandish character could get so close to some of our nation's greates ...more
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: purged-books
Some of the best writing ever published by Doctor Gonzo can be found in Volume 1 of his Gonzo Papers, The Great Shark Hunt. This volume of work contains a wide variety of snippets from Thompson’s writing career, from the span of 1962 to 1978.

Let me begin by saying that Thompson is one of my favorite authors, and I have read nearly all of his books, including one of the other volumes in the Gonzo Papers collection. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a great piece of work, and is probably the most
Aug 02, 2011 added it
Hunter S Thompson pioneered 'gonzo' journalism, where the journalist is never a passive observer in the story, but indeed appears in the thick of it, oftentimes as a provocateur. The Great Shark Hunt is a collection of such 'gonzo' stories, from the early 1960's to the late 1970's. Included in this volume is 'The Kentucky Derby is decadent and depraved', the first story where the term made its first appearance.
Chronologically, the earlier writings in the book deal predominantly with cultures we
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Is this a good read? 11 43 Apr 14, 2016 08:48AM  
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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

Other books in the series

The Gonzo Papers (4 books)
  • Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80's
  • Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream
  • Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
“I've always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it's a bit like fucking, which is only fun for amateurs. Old whores don't do much giggling.” 252 likes
“I have never seen much point in getting heavy with stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I... And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots.” 220 likes
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