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The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

(The Fear and Loathing Letters #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,292 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Here, for the first time, is the private and most intimate correspondence of one of America's most influential and incisive journalists—Hunter S. Thompson. In letters to a Who's Who of luminaries from Norman Mailer to Charles Kuralt, Tom Wolfe to Lyndon Johnson, William Styron to Joan Baez—not to mention his mother, the NRA, and a chain of newspaper editors—Thompson vividl ...more
Paperback, 720 pages
Published April 7th 1998 by Ballantine Books (first published May 6th 1997)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,292 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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Start your review of The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-60s, favorites
Charlotte Barry
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Imagine having your dream job of writing, only to be fired 10 times in a row, to then squander in poverty for 10 years with your wife and child, following your dream.... only to become famous for putting yourself in the center of a true story about the Hells Angels where you were almost beaten to death. Hunter lived an extraordinary life, and this hilarious book gives a behind the scenes look from his own Letters. Incredibly, Hunter kept copies of over 10,000 letters he wrote - before photocopyi ...more
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading this four or five years ago,got about a fifth of the way through it and put it on the shelf.I guess I was wanting drug addled ranting at the time which is not really what this book is made of.However on picking the book up again recently in a more open and mature state of mind I found it to be a thoroughly good insight into the mans character and sometimes dire (mostly self-inflicated) situations he faced as a young man learning his trade.
The book is well edited with notes be
Sep 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Municipal Court Magistrate, Town Hall, West Milford, NJ November 6, 1959:

"Dear Sir,
Earlier today I was given a summons to appear before your court on November 9, on a charge of 'leaving the scene of an accident.' I shall have to decline this appearance, and I hope this letter will explain why. By November 9, I shall be well out of the state of New Jersey, but I don't want to leave without explaining my position..."

"So, faced with a choice of paying a minimum of $25 for falling off a motor scoo
Kate Mcphail
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
All I can think is wow, what a crappy husband he was 😂
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
If theres only one thing youre ever going to read by this man, make it this. Its his life biography, written in real time in prolific letters to everyone and anyone who would listen in his life. if you want to learn anything about hunter s. here is the best place to do it with the most accuracy. its amazing.
Ben Goodridge
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Hunter S. Thompson is Decadent and Depraved

My entry vector to the world of Hunter S. Thompson was the film version of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," which I watched in a somewhat altered state, having been awake for nearly 36 hours on a bus trip from Georgia that left me too exhausted to take out my frustrations on anything. Possibly the only way to watch "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is in a state of severe sleep deprivation.

Later, after reading the book, as well as "The Rum Diary" and a
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book filled with personal letters and correspondence?!? Why would I want to read something like this? Well, because Hunter S. Thompson wrote all of them. The man is, was, and always will be an incredibly crazy human being (at least I think he was human). But, the excellence of his writing cannot be denied, and is always, always interesting, laugh out loud funny, and thought provoking.

I will enjoy most anything written by this man, but I think The Proud Highway is one of his best.
Austin Savill
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting to see Hunter's early life and reaction to some of the big events in his life from the letters perspective instead of as an article or story. ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't normally recommend a book of correspondence, but when it's Hunter S. Thompson the normal can be thrown out the window. As a young man in high school, he showed his incredible arrogance/confidence in saving almost everything he wrote, making carbon copies of his letters and noting that they would someday be published in book form, years before tasting any sort of fame. This book of letters reads almost like fiction. Hunter is forced to enlist in the Air Force to avoid a burglary convic ...more
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This may be my favorite Hunter Thompson book. It's a collection of letters (he saved carbons of everything he ever wrote) from a young writer, not yet proven, but cocksure and brash as they come. He reaches out to publishers, politicians, and friends as he begins to carve a niche as a journalist and novelist.

It's his most honest writing, and as all these letters were written before his legend had surpassed his talent, you don't get the 'Gonzo' treatment, or the lazy indignation that fueled his
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My last exposure to Hunter S. Thompson was in high school, when I read the Rum Diary and of course Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; it's not to say I wasn't impressed, but after reading the Proud Highway I am completed..enamored..? by Thompson's writing. Nothing can be more insightful than this amazing collection of his correspondences, and of course his letters are incredibly well-written, politically charged at times and there are even a couple of love letters thrown in the mix. so good! ...more
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, letters
This is a book for those who love literature, especially Hunter S Thompsons work. The hundreds of letters that make up this book show his many moods and his honesty.
Thompson was critical of himself and others, but not in a nasty way. Well, yes, he could be a complete pain in the arse, but he always seems to apologise for rudeness if it's to people he cares about. Those who are called to account without mercy are usually unimaginative dolts who lack creative ideas.
I'm biased, of course. Many wi
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of HST, fans of writing, fans of journalism
i started reading this when i was working w/ Suave at the library in glassboro over winter break junior year of college, & then i didn't pick it up again until about a month ago. now i am taking it slow, because it is fantastic. and i remember how quickly i devoured the letters volume 2 (Fear & Loathing in America). i wish i had had the foresight to save a copy of every word i ever wrote... ...more
I Contain
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you want to understand what it took to give birth to Gonzo journalism, read this book. Hunter S. Thompson, the man most people know as a drug crazed mad man who answers to no one, has to start somewhere. This book tells the story of a man trying to get his start as a writer and eventually succeeding in piecing together the beginnings of something beautiful. As a bonus, this book also reveals much about HST as a reader.
Hailey Johnson
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is my first (albeit short) review that I have written on this site: I cannot more highly recommend any book or collection of Hunter S. Thompson's papers, ephemera, etc. If you have read any of his work read this-- every letter that they have found of his, including return correspondence, is collected in this rather massive collection. ...more
Shannon Lorraine
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hunter S. Thompson, the man behind his brilliance. I have many favourite authors, but Thompson is at the peak. These letters of correspondence shed light into the world Thompson lived, whilst sweating over a typewriter, in his pursuit of literary fame. Hilarious, brutal, shocking, but always honest. I plan to enforce this read upon all I know, and all whom should. Enjoy, you will.
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This collection of Hunter S. Thompson's letters offers, perhaps, the best insight into his genius. His letters, even at a young age, were literate, exotic, interesting and wildly amusing. ...more
Hank Stuever
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this -- especially his letters and correspondence as a young man trying to find himself -- much more than when I read the gonzo journalism he became famous for.
Jorge Moreira
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
did get a view inside his head and taught me how to properly write letters.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this, after reading Hell's Angels, which I enjoyed. He saved every letter. Passionate, intelligent and impulsive, his letter writing is up there with his best published writing. I highlighted a lot of quotes in it. A complex person, not easily categorized, he was a member of the NRA, a fierce opponent of the Vietnam war, a friend of Ginsberg, an Air Force vet, able and willing to offend with language, afraid of a fascist future, in the form of Reagan and Nixon. He loved and hated. He prob ...more
Steven Booth
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is proof that HST was the ultimate Method writer. He was always in character, even when writing letters. For many of these letters, he was his gonzo self, writing and going on in much the same way he did in his books and journalism pieces.

There is no new ground broken here. Fans will love it. Especially entertaining are his letters to William Kennedy, Bill Seomin and Charles Kuralt. He goes off on the counter-culture, the writing business, relationships, the political situation, Vietna
Richard Croner
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book can be categorized as a stream of consciousness record of a bright, highly opinionated individual. This record occurred during a time when I was young and oblivious kid and carries thru the start of my military service. The latter period was when I was slowly becoming aware of this country and the world around me. Ironically, Thompson's observations and thoughts 50 years later were right on point. I vaguely remember people around me considered him a "wacko" but I was too busy with life ...more
Jonny Parshall
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-good-doctor
Where to begin? This tome surprised me pleasantly. I had not high expectations. It is, after all, simply a collection of letters from Hunter S, and in most all cases, devoid of the opposing correspondence... like hearing only half of the conversation. And yet, though never intended to be a book in their composition, these letters provide a rather gripping, authentic narrative to the late fifties and 1960s and, effectively, an early memoir of the author himself.

Few of us can write better books on
Chad Miculek
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I took me forever to finish this, but I enjoyed it the whole way through. This is like a biography, but in the persons own words, written at the time they were living it. You also get to see the code switching, the difference in tone between letters to friends, mom, girlfriends, agents and publishers, businesses, and landlords. The arc is also a classic starving artist story, ending in the big break. As with any Thompson, the writing offers a unique take on history that feels like a front row se ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Finally finished reading this saga and I would say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was quite entertaining and also fascinating to read the account of a man who was alive as a journalist during the 50's and 60's. At times while reading I would take note of certain viewpoints that he voiced, and then would have to take into account that this is a white-man in the 50's writing his story through his narrative. Tinged with the reality of the racial and economic equalities of those time periods, it was ey ...more
Ed Mann
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There hasn't been a more inciteful, humorous, erudite chronicler of American life, politics and sports during the second half of the 20th century than Hunter. He reformed the language of modern English to fit his life and talents, and while others attempted to imitate him in style and substance, they often failed at both. He was the one and only.

The Proud Highway provides the reader with evidence of his talents from age 17, and the adventure that was his mind pops from the page.

He was the best.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just re-read this for maybe the fourth or fifth time. I absolutely love Thompson's books and articles, but his letters are perhaps where he is at his best. These show the development of one of the most brilliant minds in American literature. This collection ends prior to the advent of Gonzo and there isn't as much politics as many might expect. Rather, this is a frustrated young man trying to figure out himself and his environment. ...more
Kyle Feuerbach
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What a ride that was. Hunter S. Thompson could really write, especially when he was pissed off. His nasty letters, even to those he admired were my favorite. He would throw three jabs, then sprinkle a compliment or ask them for a job, only to quickly turn back to the punches.

His mind roared as aggressively as the life he lived... luckily for us, he wrote all of it down on paper to live on for generations to come.
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is Hunter Thompsons raw and candid rise from a talented writer to a litterary prodigy, documented from his personal letters written from 1955-67. We get to ride along his early (and continous) struggles with money, deadlines and fiction-book dreams (some years before his breakthrough fiction-esque sucsess of "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas", released in 71). ...more
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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

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The Fear and Loathing Letters (3 books)
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