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The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time

(The Gonzo Papers #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  12,407 ratings  ·  358 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
Shelves: favorites
“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 wavele
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
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.
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.
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
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
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gonzo
Behind the Fear and Loathing mystique, the drug addled, booze soaked, outlaw idolized by millions of stoned wannabe authors was an incredibly funny and gifted writer. This is one of those hefty tomes that you can dip into virtually anywhere and find something worthwhile. There is some brilliant stuff about the 1968 election, the political conventions, Richard Nixon, some solid international travel writing, and a particularly hilarious piece on a world class skier.

Don’t do drugs kids, but someti
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: journalism, drugs
"Oscar was one of God's own prototypes-- a high-powered mutant of some kind who was never even considered for mass production. He was too weird to live and too rare to die-- and as far as I'm concerned, that's just about all that needs to be said about him right now." -pg 515

No matter what trip HST is on I thoroughly enjoy the experience of him taking me along. This frenzy was a pleasure to read & envisage regardless of what percentage mixture Gonzo to Degenerate we get. Many famous characters g
Thomas Tyrer
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There he goes!

Some kind of high powered mutant, never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die. The life and times of Hunter S Thompson, a very powerful energy that transcended class, structure, logic, reality, sense, senselessness...This compilation is vast and diverse in content and structure of writing and thinking. You really get a sense of being part of the thought process in every statement and obscure tangent throughout these articles. Coined the term gon
Leslie  Golden
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A collection of Hunter's Best work that stands on its own. It includes excerpts from some of HST's longer works (Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, The Hell's Angels, etc.) and reprints of some of his incredible essays. Hunter Thompson's view of the world always contained a combination of moral outrage, amazement and sardonic humor but his eloquence and integrity made each essay a treasure.

It seems strange to associate integrity with this writer considering his reputation but Thompson alw
Apr 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is one for the fans only. Rambling essays on topics no one could possibly care about now. And Nixon, Nixon, Nixon. We get it Thompson, he was your nemesis. I got to about page 250 and couldn't take any more. His style may have been revolutionary and new in the 60s and 70s but now it's just irritating, and unnecessarily long-winded. The tangents he goes off on! Mentions of stories but no actual story. And more than anything, it was just tedious. Yawn.
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.

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
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
Oct 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't actually finished this - it's a huge book with scores of articles - but it's a safe bet I won't be finishing it for a while, as it's the kind of thing I will be dipping in and out of for years, hence putting it on the read shelf now, otherwise I'll be currently-reading it forever. It's not the subject matter that interests me, as many of the articles are very specific to the time and place in which they were written, and I'll admit my knowledge of (fairly) recent American history and c ...more
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
Jake Berlin
the essays themselves are generally very good, and interesting as cultural time capsules if nothing else. my main frustration with this book is its organization: it badly needs an editor. not so much to chop anything down, but rather to organize. the sports essays (on boxing, football, horse racing, sport fishing, etc) should all be together, the counter-culture essays (including a fabulously well-timed one on “hashbury” written just before the summer of love) should be together, and the politic ...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
Theo Logos
Just as powerful as when I first read it over thirty years ago. My overwhelming thought as I read one insane and insightful piece after another is that we sure could use his voice in this insane moment of history we are caught in now. Would love to see HST in his prime take on the Orange Clown and his enablers.
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.
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.
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.
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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

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