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Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  21,469 ratings  ·  950 reviews
From the legendary journalist and creator of “Gonzo” journalism, Hunter S. Thompson comes the bestselling critical look at Nixon and McGovern’s 1972 presidential election.

Forty years after its original publication, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 remains a cornerstone of American political journalism and one of the bestselling campaign books of all time. Hunter
Paperback, 40th Anniversary Edition, 481 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1973)
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Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
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

Ed: Any kind of campaign that taps that energy would...

HST: Would generate a tremendous high for everybody involved in it.

Ed: And would ultimately for you be another paramount experience- out there on the Edge?

HST: Oh, absolutely. But you know you'd be killed, of course, and that would add to it considerably- never knowing when the bullet was coming.

It's a wet and windy late January morning, with what looks like a squall outside, and it just occurred to me that Thompson would really have been lo
Joe Soltzberg
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 for a ...more
Tom Quinn
I re-read this in early 2016 out of a dim memory and a curious urge to compare the present-day Presidential campaign circus to the 1972 Presidential campaign zoo.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

The first time I read this I was young, in my mid-twenties. I didn't recognize the names. I laughed some and moved on. I didn't appreciate its savagery, or its brutal honesty. I just dismissed it as a longer version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in a different city. My eyes wer
Sean Wilson
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
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
Feb 29, 2012 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 seething, s
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nixon was the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of America, the subversion of the working class, the abuse of minorities, the testament to pure greed for money and power, that has led the Republican Party from the sensible charity and honesty of Eisenhower, to the depths of the terrifying clown, Trump, and his obscenely evil opportunists in the wreckage of the GOP.

Hunter was here, at this moment of Nixon's criminal grab for power, close to the center of the obscenity, but only allowed to ta
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Hunter Thompson brings the same weird wit, fragmented headspace, and undeniable charm to this account of the 1972 presidential race. He's a man with political views after my own heart. ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Yair Ben-Zvi
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There's something to reading the words of an addict who both hates and can't live without his vices. And no, this has little to do with drugs. Hunter S. Thompson's truly tragic obsession was with the American Dream, and achieving it, in this work, through politics. And it's an utter balls up. For HST, for America, and for history as well.

It has been a very very long time since I've read Thompson. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was my only other exposure to him and that was way back in that magic
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
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Bart Schaneman
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all the possible books one can read, I picked up Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72 this year for two reasons. I wanted to know:

1. Are there parallels in Thompson’s coverage to what we’re experiencing in the era of Donald Trump? Was the Nixon campaign, and was Nixon as a candidate, as depraved and absurd as what we’re seeing today?

2. Should I regret not going on the campaign trail? Is following a campaign a desirable pursuit for a journalist? Or do you just beco
Jun 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The received wisdom is HST is one of those authors you go mad for in your teens, and go off as an adult.

That’s only partly true.

I’ve never felt Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas captured the man best, merely his myth - and it was the myth that did for him as much as the drugs. But this book is the man.

An English reader doesn’t need to know much about American politics to understand it. The facts are simple enough. The incumbent President, Richard Nixon, is scum incarnate; the long-shot challenger
Aug 14, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer the earlier writing of Hunter Thompson - his writing that came before the ego induced Gonzo journalism.

Thompson has so many moments of brilliant observations but way too much ranting and an unhealthy obsession with crime statistics and rape specifically. And when an author literally writes statements like "Now where was I?" the lack of such literary mores drown out the really insightful stuff for me.
I worked on this campaign in press advance and met Hunter Thompson while doing so, so this book was a look back at that time. Hunter may have been somewhat crazy but he was a good writer and had fascinating insights, as I recall from the distance of many years.
The P.E. teacher, S.S. Gruppenführer Mr. Martin, in my view, was a sick bastard.

If I'd known the word fascist at the time, I'd have called him that, too, but I was only 10 years old and not well informed. It was inimical to the power structure of Sanders Elementary School to undermine their own authority by telling us, and certainly, therefore, not their inclination to yank from his neck the lanyard that held the whistle that was always perched between his lips for constant blowing, which he di
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Erik Graff
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is a rollicking journey through the 1972 presidential campaign, from the Democratic primaries to Richard Nixon's landslide victory over George McGovern. The book is pure Gonzo journalism, employing Thompson's first-person writing style in which fiction is blended with non-fiction. Thompson is notably more attached to reality here than in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but you still get the feeling you are humouring someone who is truly mad whilst read ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, classics
while this book doesn't carry the same cultural cache as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it is a fascinating look into the cesspool that is the political machine. Thompson's disdain of Richard Nixon is both funny and quaint by today's standards given the current United States president. if you are into the counterculture, and HST fan, a political junkie, or just want to learn more about the era and zeitgeist of the early 1970s, then check this out. it is written in the typical Gonzo Style. just ...more
Greg D'Avis
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Re-read. HST is an acquired taste, I get that, and he was never this good again. It’s my all-time favorite book on U.S. politics, and nice and timely right now. Underneath all the gonzo stuff, this is an unflinching and unsentimental book about America.
Dave Geyer
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book so simultaneously enjoyable and frightening.
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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