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Gonzo: The Life Of Hunter S. Thompson

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  10,108 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews
The star-studded, rollicking, juicy story of Hunter S. Thompson, as told by the friends and family who inhabited his world.
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Sphere (first published October 1st 2007)
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Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost, but not quite, wish I hadn't read this book. You can see from my other reviews that I'm a huge fan of HST's writings, and by the very nature of his gonzo style one gets the sense that one knows him from his work alone. Not so. Or not completely so, of course. This book (which as an oral biography is basically just a collection of quotes from the people who knew HST the best talking about him) reveals HST as a horribly abusive narcissist who lacked the self-discipline to become a truly ...more
In life, Hunter S. Thompson was a Tasmanian Devil -- always in motion, always dangerous, and always hungry, for booze, for drugs, for women, for attention. He was hell to live with; a bully, a prankster, an abuser. Also, a walking contradiction who could kill you with kindness. He was sociable, and sociopathic. He lived large, and lived his way, and you either accepted that way or you were anathema. He was not a role model, but a rat bastard bad-boy child-man that every man secretly imagines wan ...more
Nov 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a pain in my neck. I was hoping we were done with the privileged white guy, and his drunken ways. But Hunter T. makes your standard inadequate male look like a hero.

What a crazy asshole. I don’t care how brilliant he was. I do intend to read his books, it is the least I can do for such a shameful, wasteful life.

When Amy Winehouse died, Tony Bennet said she sinned against her talent. That is true of H.T., if you want to concede he was that much of a genius--it might work for you.

Kelly B
Jul 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
I give everything I like 5 stars. And 1 if it sucks. It would be zero but then you might just think I forgot to rate how bad it sucks. And anything by and about Hunter S. Thompson is usually something I'm going to dig. I based my review, not on the writing like usual, because this is a chronological book based on interviews from people in his life, (minus his 2nd wife, Anita Thompson, who refused to have her words published, which makes me wonder why because she was in the latest, and best that ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm fond of the "oral biography" format, and I'm a fan of some of Thompson's work (and full disclosure: I used to be ga-ga over his stuff in my youth). I was a little worried that Wenner would make the book sort of self-serving and maybe it is a little, but I thought overall this was very well done.

Not surprisingly, Thompson spends a lot of time being appalling to people. And I didn't realize how little productive time there was in his life. The drugs and alcohol really did limit him very quickl
Nov 25, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gonzos
This book has stolen, or borrowed several memories from another book dealing on HST.

Also it should be noted that the introduction by Johnny Depp was not written for this book, but rather was used in an article several years ago for Rolling Stone, he had no say in its publication for the text at hand.

Keep in mind that Jann Wenner was on terrible terms with HST during his final days. Anita Thompson (HST's widow) also refused to have any of her words used in the publication of this text leading
Jennifer Waite
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gonzo was published in 2007, but I guess I was busy. Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner and Corey Seymour (mainly Seymour), gathered insight and anecdotes from those closest to him to compile this biography. It's a great read that goes all the way back to his boyhood in Kentucky. It's a must read for anyone who considers themself a fan and fascinating for aspiring writers (who should be forced to sign a contract pinky-swearing to stop trying to be the next Hunter Thompson). However, one should be posit ...more
There's a scene in Desert Solitaire (I think) where Edward Abbey describes two vultures circling the sky above him and he talks about the privilege of having your bones picked clean by them.

By the time I finished reading Gonzo, I felt something like that except the privilege of publicly picking the corpse clean did not result in leaving it with any dignity. I didn't need to know anything about the particulars of Thompson's bodily functions or the point of entry/exit of the bullet.

The best parts
Ken Heard
Nov 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive look at the career of Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson. The oral narration has everything ..from Hunter's Kentucky Derby and Rhode Island yacht racing essays to Fear and Loating in Las Vegas to his eventual demise due to drug and alchohol addiction.

As a long-time journalist, I became enamored with Thompson in the early 1980s, reading Shark Hunt and the Fear and Loathing books. I drifted away from him as I got older; the drug usage he bragged of was no longer cool and instead wast
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2016-reads
#NonFictionNovember 2016: FASCINATING.

My interested for Hunter S. Thompson was born when I was watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. At that point, I was only a fan of Depp and even if I fully understood only half of the things that happened in the movie I was captivated by his character. I had this super glamorized version of him in my head.
After reading this book it turned out he was definitely more of a piece of shit that I was expecting him to be. But that's fine.
I think I knew that but
Jake Losh
Jul 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty terrible book. Let's put away the "problematic" subject (HST, himself) for the moment. An "oral biography" is very lazy way to write a biography. It's almost as if Wenner went to the trouble of transcribing all kinds of recorded interviews with HST's pals, but then instead of writing a real biography just decided to copy and paste them together into a narrative. It's not a multi-dimensional portrait: The stories are overwhelmingly laudatory ("Wow, wasn't that a crazy, kooky stor ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: biography fans, Hunter S. Thompson fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
This book made me think of people with that extra spark. People that believe in themselves so fully that others are magically drawn into their sphere. I can think of only a handful of people I have known that have this power. I admire it - though I see the downside of it, where it can be hard for people like this to empathize with others because they are so centered in their own world. But people in HST's life so wanted to be a part of his world that he could treat them horribly and they'd be ri ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read a couple of books by Hunter S Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Songs of the Doomed) but knew only a few details of his life. This account is a cleverly edited collection of first-person anecdotes from people who knew Thompson at various stages in his life. Definitely one of the more extreme cases of a troubled genius. There's plenty of stories that don't reflect too well on him but also huge admiration for his creativity and bizarre humor. Highly recommended, and I'm inspired ...more
Steve Kettmann
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2009
I have liked oral biographies ever since I read the George Plimpton/Jean Stein volume "Edie," and for dealing with the outsized legacy of Hunter S. Thompson, I think it was a great choice. In the end this book made me no less intrigued by Thompson the writer, even as I came to understand how blowing it on big stories really did seem to be something essential to his writerly DNA. But what really stayed with me is all the unsavory details of just how beastly HST was to the women in his life. It's ...more
Kimmo Sinivuori
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like oral histories. Legs McNeils Please Kill Me - The Oral History of Punk is a masterpiece. The thing with oral histories is that you get what you read. This applies to HST particularly well as George McGovern once said that the great thing with HST is that you get what you see.
This book has particular credibility as it is compiled by Rolling Stone founder and HST employer Jann Wenner. The variety of characters interviewed is very good. Testimonies by all sorts of people from along HS
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: beginner HST fans
For serious Hunter fans, this book is hard to get through. Written in choppy paragraphs from those who knew him best, the hodge podge makeup paints a picture of HST that most of us already know - and really only serves as a way for Jann and other people in the book to grab onto his celebrity and take a piece of it for themselves.
Raegan Butcher
A collection of anecdotes about one of the most unique americans to have ever stomped on the Terra.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the man was fantastic, and that's just the truth.
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for hunter fans. Probably 3 stars for the uninitiated. The stories rounded out his myth for me.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
52 books: A nonfiction book
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing book! author's not too bad, either.
Eve Kay
May 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: druggie
Since my emotional rollercoaster cart went all the way from I HATE IT! I FCKING HATE IT!! to AHAHAHA THAT IS OUTRAGEOUSLY FUNNY! I feel it's only fair to give Gonzo heaps of stars on the rating scale. Any book that does that deserves it. However, I did not find this book well put together, the recollections sometimes either overlapping or just not flowing nicely from one to another and 400 pages of not flowing text, well, it just doesn't work. I have to point out alot of other things as well, an ...more
Don Gillette
Probably the best "oral history" I've read of Hunter Thompson even though it's not easy to acknowledge that one of your idols in the journalism field was a narcissistic prick most of the time.
This book is a collection of mini-interviews, often only one or two lines, from dozens of people who knew him personally and that set it apart from the rest. Not better than an actual biography, not worse--just apart.
Not meaning the following to be a spoiler, it may be:
What I discovered in this book that
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rad book. What an animal. Lived quite a life.
M. Milner
Jul 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Corey Seymour and Jann Wenner's oral biography of Hunter Thompson is a balanced, interesting look behind the curtain, as it were, of one the more interesting literary figures of the 20th century.

The book gets down-and-dirty on Thompson’s life, from his early days in Louisville to his days as a young writer in New York, South America and San Fransisco to his final days in Woody Creek. It sheds light not just on how he wrote his most famous books, but on how everybody else reacted to them; a form
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Rolling Stone and HST, as well as those interested in the voice of an artist
As political strategist James Carville says in the book, "Hunter S. Thompson lives the life we would all like to have lived."
Not sure if the drug binges and alcoholism was what he had in mind, or not. But underneath that statement, there is truth. HST lived a life that was totally his! Even to the end he went out on his own at a time of his choosing. He did what he wanted, when he wanted and with who he wanted to do it with.

This biography was unique in the sense that it was probably my first "o
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Gonzo' is a phenomenal look at the life of the infamous Hunter Thompson compiled by Jann Wenner and Corey Seymour from a series of oral interviews with the people that knew him best. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in Hunter's life and legacy.

The thing about this biography is that it is complete. It is whole. It comes at Hunter from all sides, and gives you a well rounded understanding of the man. You are witness to his manic drug use, but also his subtle generosity. Hi
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book two days ago and it's kind of haunting me. Well, Hunter's life is really. I feel so conflicted in my feelings about him as a person, as he seemed to have sides to his personality that highly conflicted one another. At times, I hated him and thought he was a horrible asshole. Other times, I pitied him. Sometimes, I respected him. Afterall, no one could ever accuse him of not living life on his own terms, and that, in my book, is one of the most respectable things that can be ...more
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“John Belushi had that aura of someone who doesn't have a lot of time - that's why he was a little frantic about everything. I think Oscar [Acosta] had that too. They were both holding onto the end of the tornado, and somehow I think they knew it just wasn't gonna last.” 0 likes
“Hunter and John [Belushi] both shared a sense of possibility, and they seemed to have no limits. There was no Governor of the night. It was like being off on adventures with Huck and Tom - everything was possible.” 0 likes
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