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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.

Now this cult classic of gonzo journalism is a major motion picture from Universal, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.

224 pages, Paperback

First published July 7, 1971

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About the author

Hunter S. Thompson

100 books9,199 followers
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 substances (and to a lesser extent, alcohol and firearms), his libertarian views, and his iconoclastic contempt for authority. He committed suicide in 2005.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,288 reviews
Profile Image for Nathan.
233 reviews187 followers
September 17, 2007
I recently went to Las Vegas for the first, and probably only, time in my life. I hadn't read this book in years, and previously, it hadn't even been my favorite Hunter S. Thompson work. Thompson is dearly missed by many people, and on a personal level, I miss him deeply. He spoke to a true astonishment at the complete, unrelenting fuckedupedness of America and her politics, and he did it with a bite that was deserved and unmatched. He probably could have been a very rich super-novelist of popular, uninspired filth. He probably could have been a brilliant novelist of any kind. But he chose to do what he did, and he did it better than any of his generation. Like Mark Twain, he chronicled American stupidity in the tongue of his generation, and he captured it perfectly, from the insanity of the drug experience to the depravity of American politics. For years, no work of his stood out to me as much as Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 or the Gonzo letters. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, to me, wasn't his best work. Then I went to Vegas. Suddenly, all the subtle differences between this and his other work made sense, and I realized that he had captured the true tackiness of the truest tacky city on the entire planet (though Dubai with their fucking Island fantasies are likely to take over soon). Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas IS Las Vegas. It's a nightmare, a joke, a blunder of comical, cosmically-fucked proportions. It's not Sin City. It's where Sin goes to die when it's embarrassed for itself. It's where families go on vacations with ten-year-olds, children who get handed fliers for prostitutes. It's the living, pulsing, filthing embodiment of the Holy Dollar. It's sensory overload on a scale drugs can't equal, a place where you almost have to take a brimful of Valium and a pint of ether to feel normal and not feel utterly ashamed at the state of the human condition. It would make you want to blow your brains out if it weren't so goddamned fun, even if you're gay, you hate gambling and hookers make your brain itch. Yet you never, ever feel like it is evil or subversive or curious in any way. It's just about a buck, and every other blink reminds you of it. This is a place where Hunter S. Thompson could easily mingle with a law enforcement convention and not get noticed. This is a place where a lawyer could leave you with a hotel bill. This is a place where no questions get asked because no answers would make sense, and the only thing profound about any of it is that you know, on a gut level, that all the oil used to produce all the plastic used to build that city no doubt funded an island shaped like Australia that was built off the coast of the UAE over the weekend. This novel will never cease to be important, and one day, as a cultural artifact of a forgotten culture from a forgotten nation, it will be one of the most important anthropological pieces in existence.

I wish he'd survived the Bush administration. We need this man.

NC
Profile Image for Jafar.
728 reviews232 followers
May 16, 2010
Yes, I see all the raving reviews and the four- and five-star ratings, but I honestly don’t remember the last time I was so bored and annoyed by a book. Barring a massive conspiracy, maybe I just didn’t get this book? This is what I got from the book. Please help me if missed something. We drove more than 100 miles an hour while drunk and high. WAHAHAHA! We ran up a huge bill and fled the hotel without paying it. WAHAHAHA! We picked up a teenage girl and gave her drugs and then left her alone, all scared and paranoid. WAHAHAHA! We nearly strangled the poor cleaning lady. WAHAHAHA! Do the good people who’ve never done, and will never do, and in reality will be quite appalled by the things described in this book, really find these tales so interesting and charming?

Or did this book offer subliminal messages about human nature or sociopolitical conditions of its time that I missed? What does this have to do with the heart of the American dream? Describing the book as some kind of a backlash against the Vietnam War and the fraudulent Nixon administration must be another joke that I don’t get. This book somehow reminded me of Sexual Life of Catherine M. People waving their filthy laundry – the stench going up to high heavens – in our face, just out of sheer narcissism. Look at me! Aren’t I great?

This book must have been really cool and hip when it was published in 1971. If anyone writes a book like this these days, the only thing that I have to say is: grow the fuck up.
December 27, 2018
Update Silent censorship by Goodreads. At the bottom. It wouldn't be relevant here.
I read this years ago and reviewed it, but it seems to have disappeared from my booklist. Did I blot my copybook by slagging off the author's major drug and alcohol habits and thereby get it deleted or what? It's not like the author could object as a) he's dead and b) he was proud of his prodigious consumption of substances that got him off his head.

Or was it just the GR monster, munching away, like a moth, holes here, holes there and you don't find them until you actually go looking?

Whichever. Bastards.

When I was very fired up about the censorships and deletions I wrote a 'reviewand I'm wondering if I was more prescient than I realised? 25 Dec 2018. This 'review' about Goodreads censorship has also been deleted (silently, I just found out, I was never told) . Well, well, well... This silent censorship, just delete everything they don't approve of and don't let the reviewer know.... that's really not in keeping with the Goodreads Otis set up. Is this Amazon? What does that say for the future of books you only rent on your Kindle?
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
389 reviews3,173 followers
November 29, 2022
Who doesn’t love Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man?

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is an epic tale of two people, Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, having a wild, crazy, drug-fueled weekend of craziness, near-misses, and misadventure.

The line between art and reality is quite blurry in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas because in March 1971 Hunter S. Thompson (the author) and his attorney friend, Oscar Zeta Acosta, did make a trip to Vegas. As a member of the press, Thompson covered a motorcycle race and a legal conference about the dangers of drugs.

Three years after the Vegas trip with Hunter, Acosta disappeared in Mexico and has never been seen since. A real-life unsolved mystery. In 2005, Thompson died. His ashes were fired from a cannon with fireworks to the songs, “Spirit in the Sky” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is extremely funny. There are two drugged-out persons attending a conference about the dangers of drugs. They quickly realize that the people running the conference have absolutely no idea about drugs.

The book also makes fun of society and formal education. For example, Dr. Gonzo would say, “As your attorney, I would advise…..” Or, Raoul would talk about being a doctor of journalism. They didn’t take themselves too seriously.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a wild, wild ride. You know that it is a fleeting moment. At the beginning of the book, the two are going along at 100 miles an hour in a convertible. These two are only going to get by with so much, but they are going to enjoy every single second of it.

What would Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like if it took place today? Call Uber when your car breaks down? Do people even look up from their smartphones to recognize that someone is out of their mind on drugs? You definitely can’t pull your car out on the runway to meet the plane anymore. Where are these hotels that will wash your car when you valet park?

Now, I just need a convertible and some VIP parking spots……

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Profile Image for Lyn.
1,853 reviews16.4k followers
December 13, 2019
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson is profane, violent, disturbing, irreverent, and yet immaculately compelling.

The reader is as entranced as a driver witnessing a bizarre car wreck, horrified but unable to turn away.

It reminds me alternatively of Why Are We in Vietnam?, A Confederacy of Dunces and in a strange way that is indescribable, A Clockwork Orange. It is about the American dream in a similar way that Mailer’s book is about Vietnam, you may get specifically to it at the end and then, looking back, realize that the subject had been lurking in the shadows all along.

What makes this a much better book than Mailer’s swill is Thompson’s sequences of lucidity amidst murky sections of drug descriptions and ramblings. Thompson is a fun writer, I’ve always liked gonzo journalism humor, the similes and metaphors are golden; they are as good as Captain Kangaroo hopped up on mescaline and vodka soaked rice cakes.

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Profile Image for Nadine Larter.
Author 1 book287 followers
January 14, 2013
Oh I don't really know where to begin with my absolute hate for this book. Hunter Thompson is a famous journalist. He is respected. He rode with the Hells Angels and he interviewed all the musicians that we worship. He was Rolling Stone Magazine "cool". He was so cool that friggen Johnny Depp played him in TWO movies. Loving him is just a given. Apparently. Unfortunately I can't get past the fact that I just think he's a fucking twat.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,079 reviews6,893 followers
October 6, 2013
A long drug- and alcohol-frenzied week in Las Vegas. This is written by Hunter Thompson, long-time editor of Rolling Stone, so we know he knows firsthand about what he writes about. I imagine this is one of the best portrayals of what is like to go through life in a drug-frenzy, but the story is laced with humor. It's not great writing, or even good writing, but it holds your attention in the way a magazine column does. But even wild antics can get tedious night after night in a drug-filled haze. I know it is a work of irony and commentary on materialism but still the writing struck me as sophomoric.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,132 reviews39.3k followers
November 15, 2020
I chose something entertaining, mind blowing , absolutely confusing read for flashback Saturday!

Two men : an oddball journalist Raoul Duke and his psychopathic lawyer Dr. Gonzo chase American dream in Vegas as they have nearly drug induced coma ( thanks to vodka soaked rice cakes, mescaline, cannabis, ether, cocaine and alcohol: I still have no idea how they survive throughout entire journey without being OD’ed !)

Surrealist, vivid, disturbing, complex with definitely inaccurate, unreliable, stony narration! A quite criticism of what did go wrong with 60’s counter movement!

It is based on real story of Raoul Duke who is assigned to report the Mint 400 Motorcycle Race, accompanied with his lawyer buddy in 1971!

I enjoyed this journey and if you didn’t catch the movie Terry Gilliam directed, you should give it a try ASAP! It is truly great adaptation which directly reflects everything you read crazy, nonsense, complex, destructive, drug induced , dark, absurd to the big screen. Mr. Gilliam is the master of surrealism on big screen.

The best quotes:

“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”

“In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

“You better take care of me Lord, if you don't you're gonna have me on your hands.”

Let’s end this with the lyrics of “ Sympathy for the devil”:
“Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah!”
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
659 reviews840 followers
January 26, 2021

“Jesus! Did I SAY that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me? I glanced over at my attorney, but he seemed oblivious...”


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Rolling Stone

Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas takes you on a wild ride. At its heart, it is a drug-infused road trip that introduces Thompson's concept of 'Gonzo' journalism in which the journalist becomes part of the story. The parts where our narrator seeks legal or expert advice from his equally drug-addled attorney are brilliant. These conversations remind me that nearly all of us surround ourselves with people who share our perspective on the world. As a cultural commentary on the times, Fear and Loathing is funny, weird and over the top.

Pin on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Ralph Steadman Art for Fear & Loathing | Ralph steadman, Ralph steadman art, Fear and loathing
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
June 16, 2020
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

The story follows its protagonist, Raoul Duke, and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, as they descend on Las Vegas to chase the American Dream through a drug-induced haze, all the while ruminating on the failure of the 1960's counter cultural movement.

The novel lacks a clear narrative and frequently delves into the surreal, never quite distinguishing between what is real and what is only imagined by the characters.

The basic synopsis revolves around journalist Raoul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson) and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Oscar Zeta Acosta), as they arrive in Las Vegas in 1971 to report on the Mint 400 motorcycle race for an unnamed magazine.

However, this job is repeatedly obstructed by their constant use of a variety of recreational drugs, including LSD, ether, cocaine, alcohol, mescaline, and cannabis.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a 1971 novel by Hunter S. Thompson, illustrated by Ralph Steadman.

عنوانها: ترس و نفرت در لاس وگاس: سفری وحشیانه به قلب رویایی آمریکائی؛ نویسنده: هانتر‌ اس. تامپیسون؛ ترس و تنفر در لاس‌ وگاس؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه سپتامبر سال 2018 میلادی

عنوان: ترس و نفرت در لاس وگاس: سفری وحشیانه به قلب رویایی آمریکائی؛ نویسنده: هانتر‌ اس. تامپیسون؛ مترجمها: احسان پارسائیان، پدرام مقیم‌اسلام؛ تهران: چشمه، ‏‫1387؛ در 203ص؛ شابک 9789643624767؛ ‬موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20م

عنوان: ترس و تنفر در لاس‌ وگاس؛ نویسنده: هانتر اس. تامسون؛ مترجم: حسام زاهدی؛ آبادان: پرسش‏‫، 1396؛ در 224ص؛ ‬شابک 9786002650535؛

موضوع اصلی این کتاب روزنامه نگاران هستند؛ «تامپسون» با این اثر نوع ویژه ای از روزنامه نگاری به نام «گانزو ژورنالیسم» را، به نام خود ثبت کرده است؛ در این شیوه روزنامه‌ نگاری، خود روزنامه‌ نگار در بطن داستان و گزارش قرار دارد؛ از این جهت رمان «ترس و نفرت در لاس و گاس» دارای اهمیت است؛ روزنامه‌ نگاری «گانزو» یکی از سبک‌های روایی در روزنامه‌ نگاری است که در آن گزارشگر نقش راوی را در بازگویی و نوشتن گزارش بر دوش می‌گیرد؛ در این نوع گزارش، گزارشگر به دل رویداد می‌رود، و ماجرا یا داستان را بازگو می‌کند؛ در این نوع گزارش، گزارشگر از به کار بردن صفت، و گاهی تخیل، ترسی ندارد، و کوشش می‌کند، هیجان را به خوانشگر انتقال دهد

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 26/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,452 reviews12.8k followers
January 25, 2015
“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

is one of my favourite opening lines in literature. Two paragraphs later are the equally brilliant lines:

“I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.”

That whole opening narration sets the tone of chaos and comedy told in a perfect deadpan that defines this book.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a modern classic of American literature and is the cause for untold numbers of irresponsible Vegas road trips.

Published in 1971, it tells the semi-true story of when Hunter S Thompson and Oscar Acosta (renamed here as Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo) went on a drug-fuelled road trip from LA to Vegas where Thompson was commissioned by Sports Illustrated to do a write-up on the Mint 400 motorcycle race in the desert.

The drugs they consume - marijuana, mescaline, all kinds of pills, cocaine, opiates, LSD, ether, and adrenochrome - lead to whacky adventures and surreal hallucinations as the pair barrel through a plotless non-story where they also cover a drug convention full of cops and go in search of The American Dream - or its corpse. Our anti-heroes learn nothing and have no character arcs - and it’s perfect!

I read Fear and Loathing some fifteen years ago when I was a teenager and remember devouring it in one go, laughing the whole time - it instantly became one of my favourite books. Years later, I’m glad to say it still holds up. I wouldn’t say it’s as intoxicating still, but it remains a terrific book and really funny to boot.

What’s most striking about Fear and Loathing is Thompson’s unique voice narrating with a loquacious urgency and an intelligently arresting, feverish, tone. It’s what makes this book so original. And that has to be stated: Fear and Loathing is ORIGINAL.

It’s said that there are seven basic plots in the world that get repeatedly used; so how do you get around that to create something new? Abandon plot altogether! Because, yes, there’s a kind of setup with the road trip and reporting, but nothing that could be concretely described as plot. Fear and Loathing careens around at high velocity though it’s aimless – and that’s fine because the book’s strength lies in Thompson’s unstoppable descriptive narration. The book also marked a shift from the author as the creator of the story to the author as the story.

And no, Fear and Loathing isn’t the first plotless novel or the first to feature the author as main character. It’s not the first to have a road trip or hallucinations feature prominently - I don’t mean it’s original in that sense. But there had never been a voice like Thompson’s before in literature - he’s the only reason this book is so much fun and so famous - and he would set a style that would be oft imitated for decades to come.

It’s also notable for being the first Gonzo book, meaning a blend of fiction, non-fiction, and fantasy. Cartoonist Ralph Steadman’s iconic line drawings capture the mania of Thompson’s potent writing and helped define Gonzo as a literary style.

But Fear and Loathing also has more traditional literary features, as befits a writer heavily influenced by Fitzgerald and Hemingway. The search for The American Dream, as abstract as it sounds, takes the form of the novel as well as a real place Duke and Gonzo go searching for – and turns out to be a long burned-out bar (heavy-handed symbolism, Thompson!).

The form of the novel could be seen as an indictment of the American Dream, post-idealistic ‘60s. There are snippets of news stories dropped into the text highlighting that ‘Nam was still ongoing, Nixon was in the White House and declared a “war on drugs” that persists today, people on drugs were killing others, and maybe Thompson wanted Duke and Gonzo to embody the America he saw in 1971: self-destructive, paranoid, and almost wilfully stupid.

Duke and Gonzo end up driving around in a white Cadillac Eldorado which Duke describes as “the White Whale” perhaps a nod to what is often described as “the Great American Novel”, Moby Dick. Are Duke and Gonzo the white whale themselves, elusive and hunted – is that what the “Fear and Loathing” of the title references? – or are they demented Ahabs, chasing the white whale of the American Dream?

While it has a lot of positives, I wouldn’t say Fear and Loathing is perfect. Certain skits like when Duke and Gonzo pretend to be undercover agents to the cleaning lady, or in the bar where Gonzo goes too far in soliciting a female bartender, were very unfunny and felt a bit dated. And, like the tail end of a bender, the novel starts to taper off towards the end and feels like its outstayed its welcome.

Make no mistake though: Fear and Loathing is an outstanding novel. Thompson’s irresistible voice is captured forever between the covers to entertain - and it is incredibly entertaining - for generations to come. Is it an important novel? I think there’s a case to be made for it being of minor literary import and I really think those first twenty pages or so could easily stand up to anything by Twain or Hemingway.

But for me, and probably for you, the real question is, is it a fun read? And it is. It’s so damn cool and sure of itself, the book swaggers! Pick this one up whenever you want to go on the greatest road trip ever.

No point mentioning some of the great scenes that await you inside - you’ll see them soon enough.
Profile Image for Shovelmonkey1.
353 reviews868 followers
July 26, 2011
Whoop whoop, yeehaw, arrrrghflurszlegastle, shit shit shit drugs make you crazy. Yes, yes they do. So the first question is exactly how many drugs did Hunter S Thompson actually imbibe when writing this book. Either one too many or not enough would be my answer. First off, I'd like to critique the author photo on the inside sleeve of this book.

Hello.. there's Hunter S Thompson staring out from the page. He is wearing what can only be described as a three-tone patch-work denim shirt, and old-skool Aviators and draped in an American Flag. He's standing in front of a "clever" montage of boiled sharks jaws (a la Robert Shaws boat house in Jaws), another couple of miscellaneous animal skulls and a hunting knife which has been jabbed into the wooden shelf. Aside from the fact that I'm a vegetarian and not at all patriotic (towards America or even my own country), I have to say that three-tone denim is an extremely ill advised look Mr Thompson; one might even go so far as to say a mighty fashion faux pas, hence the loss of a star in the ratings. Moving on...

I didn't hate this book (or loath it) but I didn't exactly love it either (but am at the same time weirdly impressed and drawn in... shucks i'm upping the rating to a fat five stars). Cult status for this sort of thing is frequently imposed by people who look at this sort of tale as a potential bible to live by. Listen up kids, taking this amount of drugs would fuck you up so good that you would probably shit your brain out of your own ear and not even notice. I've never taken so many drugs as to shit my brain out of my own ear but I did once have my own Fear and Loathing style road trip experience.

A few years ago I was travelling from the Iranian Border to a town in a mountainous (read as not touristy) region of Turkey on the train. Three gentleman arrived at the station dressed as deeply religious local individuals (full on beards, prayer beads, traditional shalwar and skull caps), loaded their motor-bikes onto the rear of the train and proceeded to the yatakli car (sleeper car). After a while I encountered them again in the dining car and pretty quickly became sure that they were not local. After some hard eye-balling across the carriage we eventually struck up a conversation and it turns out that said gentlemen were en route back to their home town country of the Czech Republic having just been to Afghanistan. Their behaviour was a bit erratic and the random disguise was clearly falling apart after a large amount of beer and spirits were consumed. Every time we entered a tunnel they'd jump up on the tables and chairs, wave their arms over their heads and should wooloolooloooloooooo for as long as we were in the tunnel. Yes, you're thinking, this is not the behaviour of a sane/un-stoned person. Clearly.

When the beer had run out and we still had another 12 hours of train-trapped boredom to endure, they asked if I would like to join them for the rest of the journey and participate in a party. On offer was a share of some of the more high-end products that they claimed to have brought (in bulk) from Afghanistan. Having seen Midnight Express, I declined and returned to my seat.

About an hour later one of the individuals was so out of his mind that he decided to go into the main carriage and tried to climb into the overhead luggage rack for a sleep, after mistaking it for his own bed, then getting into a big argument with people who were unhappy about a man drooling and snoring on their suitcases. The gendarme were called (rather unluckily there was a whole platoon of them travelling at the rear of the train). The gentlemen were removed from the train, screamed at, severely kicked and pistol whipped, had a few AK47's pointed very levelly at their heads and advised in no uncertain terms that this was not an acceptable way to behave. The bottom line? Apparently you can only get away with this kind of behaviour in Vegas.
Profile Image for Brett C.
783 reviews157 followers
May 2, 2021
Overall I did not enjoy this book. This was my very first Hunter S. Thompson experience and so my impression of him as a writter may be skewed. This was a first-person account centered around journalism, drug use, and seemingly irrelevant decisions that turn into recklessness behavior. There was no point to this book and had almost no value for me.

I felt the story lacked a true plot and was abscent of meaning. The only redeeming quality was the writing. Hunter S. Thompson is great: his writing style has voice behind. The writing is clear and concise. The dialogue made sense, the interactions with the characters were believable, but the lack of a driving plot did me in. The drug and alcohol use/abuse only tied into the story for the purposes of observing recreational drug use. So after a while this book became boring; for me, there was nothing to gain.

I plan to read some more of his works to give the man a fair shake but I probably won't read this again. I don't think there would be any hidden messages or earth-shattering revelations to be found a second go-around.

I would recommend 'Trainspotting' and 'A Clockwork Orange'. Those I thoroughly enjoyed and had more dimension because of the unique writing, dialogue, and plot. Thanks!
Profile Image for Emily B.
424 reviews417 followers
July 16, 2022
I probably would have liked this book had I read it 10-15 years ago but today I just felt it was ugly.
There was no real beauty for me.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,828 reviews651 followers
September 9, 2022
Head into the psychedelic sunset of the sixties with this parabasis of HST - no other writer could find so much beauty in so much ugliness...what a trip. Always fasinates me: when the 'zeitraum' ends - what is left when 'we' awaken to that last slumber in hope. To my German friends: zeitraum - night wahr?
Profile Image for Martin.
38 reviews19 followers
January 2, 2008
A co-worker, whom happened to be completely insane, sized me up once and told me I was ready. He handed to me a VHS tape bearing the title, "Where the Buffalo Roam". At the time I was living a lifestyle of depraved decadence and over consumption of massive amounts of drugs and booze. While this particular journey had many peeks and valleys the next step in my literary evolution took place under a haze of pot smoke, a quart of rum and a pack and a half a day tobacco habit. After watching the movie with a roommate he stumbed off to his room but instead of retunring with a bong he handed me a copy of this book.

I will not kid you and say that being twisted on drugs won't help you understand this book more; it will. Not a necessity but once you dig deeper into the mind and works of one Hunter S. Thompson you will crave whiskey, beer and "...everyone narcotic known to mankind..." Enough of my story, this is after all a book review.

A virtually unkown writer was given a line of credit, a hotel room in Las Vegas, NV and an assingment to write a story that he never did. Instead after days of binging, purging and binging some more the man emerged with a cobbling of notes and tape recordings that he lashed together and handed to Rolling Stone magazine. While several other books were written prior to this tome, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas vaulted Hunter S. Thompson into the limelight. For better and worse "Gonzo Journalism" was born. The style is by the seat of your pants, insert yourself into the middle of your story and hope you come up with a comrprehsnible and most imporantly publisher worthy book in the end. Thompson invented it so I am not afraid to tell you he does it the best.

With his attorney at his side, Hunter searches for the American Dream, ponders the death of the free wheeling 60's and generally blows his own mind along with yours before the story ends.

If you are looking to dive into the world of Hunter S. Thompson this probably isn't the best way to start, but this is his Mona Lisa, his swan song, his coup de gras and the story that made him larger than life. My attorney has advised me to write as many reviews of his works as I can and I assure you this is only the first of many. Mahalo.
Profile Image for Tassa DeSalada.
Author 88 books271 followers
June 9, 2019
For some strange reason, this book reminds me of all the fun I had in college.
Profile Image for Fernando.
676 reviews1,067 followers
February 2, 2021
"Fui retrocediendo lentamente hacia la puerta. Una de las cosas que aprendes después de pasar años tratando con gente de la droga, es que todo es serio. Puedes darle la espalda a un individuo, pero nunca le des la espalda a la droga… sobre todo cuando la droga enarbola un chuchillo de caza afilado como una navaja barbera ante tus ojos."

Como no podía ser de otra manera, es un auténtico delirio leer “Miedo y asco en Las Vegas” de Hunter S. Thompson. Un verdadero tour alucinado y plagado de situaciones que sólo podría uno experimentar en las pesadillas más estrambóticas, especialmente si uno nunca probó drogas.
Bueno, el señor Thompson se encarga de traernos ese espectáculo surrealista con lujo de detalles en esta novela delirante y divertida.
Recuerdo vagamente el haber visto la película con Johnny Depp (amigo personal de Thompson) y Benicio del Toro y en ese momento me pregunté cuánto tenía de real y cuánto de ficción.
Finalizada la lectura del libro me doy cuenta que los aspectos ficcionales son tan pocos que el libro parece una autobiografía exacta de una parte de la alocada vida de Thompson, un periodista que supo crear un género, el periodismo “Gonzo”, que borra, casualmente como en esta novela, los límites de ficción y no ficción o de subjetivismo y objetivismo.
Thompson supo sacar partido de una época emblemática de la historia norteamericana, surgida luego del “Flower power” hippie y la liberación del consumo de alucinógenos que disparara en la sociedad el tristemente célebre Timothy O’Leary con la introducción del LSD o ácido lisérgico como diezmador de masas.
De todas manera, Thompson, que falleció en el año 2005 demostró salir airoso de ese infierno no sin haberse literalmente “quemado” en el proceso.
El conocimiento que tiene de las drogas es impresionante. Para ello basta con citar una pequeña parte del libro: "Los de la revista deportiva me habían dado también trescientos dólares en metálico, la casi totalidad de los cuales ya estaba gastada en drogas extremadamente peligrosas. El maletero del coche parecía un laboratorio móvil de la sección de narcóticos de la policía. Teníamos dos bolsas de hierba, setenta y cinco pastillas de mescalina, cinco hojas de ácido de gran potencia, un salero medio lleno de cocaína y toda una galaxia de pastillas multicolores para subir, para bajar, para chillar,… y además un cuarto de tequila, un cuarto de ron, una caja de cervezas, una pinta de éter puro y dos docenas de amyls (nitrato amílico)."
Embarcados en una aventura completamente sin sentido e irrisoria a bordo de un enorme Chevrolet descapotable al que bautizan el “Tiburón rojo”, parten hacia Las Vegas a cubrir como periodistas una carrera de motos, la “Mint 400”, aunque al llegar a la mítica “ciudad del pecado”, lo que sucederá será una serie de eventos completamente locos y disparatados.
La droga hará que lo que hagan en Las Vegas se salga de todo control y raciocinio, aumentado por desafortunados encuentros con las personas más extrañas y peligrosas posibles. La narración del personaje principal, Raoul Duke, que no es otro que Thompson mismo nos llevará experimentar situaciones totalmente voladas y sin sentido. Ambos personajes están imbuidos en una verdadera mezcla del Infierno con El país de las Maravillas de una Alicia anfetamínica.
Hago un párrafo aparte para comentar que me resultado por momentos un poco difícil leer la edición de Editorial Anagrama, especialmente por la traducción completamente española del texto original, algo que ya sufrí con la historia de otro alucinado llamado Ignatius C. Reilly en “La conjura de los necios” de John Kennedy Toole, más precisamente por esos términos tan difícil de digerir como “tío”, “chorrada”, “gilipollas”, “coño”, etc.
Espero que los lectores españoles que lean esta reseña no se enojen pero para un lector argentino es un verdadero suplicio toparse con esos vocabularios. Tal vez no sea relevante para otros, pero a mí me cuesta mucho leer este tipo de traducciones.
Volviendo a la novela, nos encontramos con que las aventuras de estos dos frenéticos personajes nunca se detienen. Apenas si comienzan a mermar cuando se les van terminando las drogas.
Lo más irónico y divertido es que en un momento, por portar credenciales falsas de policías, son invitados a la “Convención Nacional de Fiscales de Distrito de Las Vegas sobre Narcóticos y Drogas Peligrosas”, o sea, como invitar a dos comadrejas a visitar un enorme gallinero.
Las situaciones que surgirán en ese lugar serán altamente desopilantes.
Todo lo que sucede en “Miedo y asco en Las Vegas” surge de la imaginación de Thompson completamente potenciada por el uso de sustancias tan tóxicas que literalmente podrían matar a un caballa. A punto tal que el mismo autor lo afirma: "Lejos de mí la idea de recomendar al lector drogas, alcohol, violencia y demencia. Pero debo confesar que, sin todo eso, yo no sería nada."
Por favor, no intenten esto en sus casas. Ni fuera de sus casas.
Profile Image for Ginger.
739 reviews342 followers
October 16, 2019
4 STARS! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was just wild. This could be a manual on what drugs not to take at one time! during a long weekend in Las Vegas

OR...

it’s a guide in how to be so bat shit crazy on drugs, while concocting stories and conversation, that you’ll avoid getting arrested.
Why and how can that be?
Because who gets that close to a lunatic who's having an acid trip that wants to buy an ape in Circus Circus while taking more drugs and booze?! 🤣😂

I enjoyed this one and glad that I finally read it!
This book made me laugh and shake my head at the same time. I couldn't believe the amount of things Duke and his attorney got away with.

One of the best parts of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was the irony of cops having no idea about drugs or what the drug scene was even about during the 70’s.
I liked that part the most when Duke and his attorney crash the National District Attorney’s Association at the Flamingo.
It was similar to a wolf wearing sheep's clothing!
Profile Image for Lord Beardsley.
377 reviews
September 7, 2007
You know, if this was the first of Mr. Thompson's books I had read, I never would have picked up another one. As far as I can tell, this is one of his weaker ones and is really the most well-known only for the long, droning drug bullshit. Reading drug writing is about as interesting is watching paint dry. There are little kernals of hilarity (because he's a fantastic writer who is able to describe pitch perfectly the bizarre ineptitude of the human experience) which saves it from being snoringly dull. I mean, he gets on a plane to Denver by accident and decides to attempt to purchase an albino Doberman because "Since I was already here, I thought I might as well pick up a vicious dog." I love his use of language, his token words that he throws around *such as calling various people swine*. I love his misanthropic disposition that saves him from being a misogynist (god probably didn't spell that right but I'm tired) due to the simple fact that he views all of mankind as pretty much an entire wasteland. I have to say I adore Mr. Thompson. I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it either. I'll just pretend I read A Generation of Swine instead. He's more interesting as a political junkie, rather than just a junkie.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,209 followers
April 15, 2013
This needed to happen. On the Road needed to happen. Burroughs, Kesey, Ginsberg, etc needed to happen. But is it good literature? For its time, yes. For all time? The jury's out. Certainly Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is good comedy, but it may also be bad everything else.

Is this wisdom? Is it pure nonsense? Is it intelligent? Perhaps when it's occasionally intelligible. There are flashes of philosophy and poeticism...stoner philosophy and beat poeticism. Good for their day, necessary even, but dated and -like a new car driven off the lot- losing its value day by day.

This is the first thing of his I've read, so I don't know Hunter S. Thompson from a hole in the wall. I plan to read his other books and I should seek out his Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone articles before I cast judgement, but if this is his crowning glory, I can't help but lump him into that category of '60s drug-addled mind drifters, those wastes of talent who spout some scattered lines of faux guru shit that impresses other strung out jellyheads in between bouts of frying up their brains. When genius-level IQ luminaries of the day (E.G. Jim Morrison) weren't getting wasted, they picked up a single random and usually obscure book and it blew their mind...so they constantly referred to it in their own writing repeatedly like a mantra (In Thompson's case: see Horatio Algers). Beyond that they were too busy destroying their minds to be bothered with improving them. I suppose someone had to do it. I just wish I hadn't wasted a moment of my life idolizing such pseudo philosophers. Ah, but the young, innocent and flat out stupid will be fooled by the simplest of messiahs.
Profile Image for P.E..
753 reviews508 followers
July 30, 2019

- Ralph Steadman's Vintage Dr. Gonzo, an illustration for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.


THE PLOT

A journalist and his attorney set on a drug-fueled search of the American Dream . . .


RECIPE OF A NONPAREIL GONZO NOVEL :

=> Looking for the American Dream, but don't be mistaken, the real gear.

' our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country - but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that. '
-FaLiLV, p.18

' Att'y : Let me explain it to you, let me run it down just briefly if I can. We're looking for the American Dream, and we were told it was somewhere in this area . . . Well, we're here looking for it, 'cause they sent us out here all the way from San Francisco to look for it. That's why they gave us this white Cadillac, they figure that we could catch up with it in that . . . '
-FaLiLV, p.164

Eventually, turns out there is a place in Las Vegas called The American Dream, a former Psychiatrists's Club, then discotheque, then mental joint where dopers hang out... Only it is now a huge slab of cracked, scorched concrete in a vacant lot full of tall weeds... burned down three years ago.

' They look like caricatures of used-car dealers from Dallas. But they're real. And sweet Jesus, there are a hell lot of them - still screaming around these desert-city crap tables at four-thirty on a Sunday morning. Still humping the American Dream, that vision of the Big Winner somehow emerging from the last-minute pre-dawn chaos of a stale Vegas casino. '
-FaLiLV, p.57

In the end, the American Dream is located


=> Fits of Funk & Paranoia :

In a place where reality is stranger than drugs, all kind of funks are bound to happen. This is the fabric of a fair part of the novel. The illustrations by Ralph Steadman offer a nice graphic counterpart to the howling incongruities experienced by paranoid Duke and Dr Gonzo the unhinged attorney.


=> Digression :

The book is packed with asides and apartes from the narrator, now remembering a past trip in Peru, now fancying the consequences that can unravel from his actions... To me, it was part of the main incentives in reading the whole book : how pleasant is it to read someone writing the same as he were speaking his mind, telling his yarn in front of you!


=> Insights on the decline of 60's counter-culture, the failure of Timothy Leary, hippies, Hell's Angels...

' History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of "history" it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of awhole generation comes to a head in a fine long flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time-and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. '
-FaLiLV, p.67


=> Probing normality and the boundaries we assign to it.

' Indeed. But what is sane? Especially here in "our own country" - in this doomstruck era of Nixon. We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the Sixties. Uppers are going out of style. This was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realtities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him too seriously. '
-FaLiLV, p.178


=> And... spells of fierce humour :
A National District Attorney Convention on Drugs infiltrated by two patent drug-users, a thrilling propension to reckless driving, a sorry inclination to confuse reality with visions from dope, you name it!


RELATIONS :

A Saucerful of Secrets - Pink Floyd

On the Road: the Original Scroll

A Scanner Darkly

L'Écume des jours

La Nausée
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews857 followers
January 16, 2012
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A gonzo journalist writing for sports editors hits the road on an assignment to Sin City with a trunk full of dangerous drugs that looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. 

He had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-coloured uppers, downers, screamers, laughers and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum (there's a movie out Rum  diaries starring Jonny Depp out now what a strange coincidence!), a case of Budweiser, a pint of Rae ether and two dozen amyls.

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What I am thinking is oh boy! that's all gonna do some irreversible damage to the old human body.
 
What was meant to be an assignment on a few photos of motorcycles and dune buggies racing around the desert, had turned out to be a point of no return.
If you thought things should only get better, wrong. He was then sent to cover the National District Attorney's Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs still fully loaded with dangerous substances. Outrageous. 
The story was one wild helter skelter goings on written in an easy flowing style. Dark humour thrown in with some realistic characters. 
Don't forget there's nothing better than getting high naturally on adrenaline, fear, happiness and love.
Prepare to be immersed into the seedier side of the world by a writer who's been they and got the t-shirt.

You can watch Hunter S. Thompson on Letterman, 11/25/88 here on my web page.
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Review also on my webpage here.
Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews541 followers
August 6, 2014
“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.”

I remember the first time I read Alice in Wonderland I said to myself- Stepheny, what the hell did you just read? I was lost, confused and quite certain that the book was a random conglomeration of events that surely only someone heavily under the influence of multiple drugs could possibly understand. Well, I have come to the conclusion that Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the adult version of Alice in Wonderland.

This is a book about two guys travelling through the desert in search of the American Dream. These two are so fucked up on drugs that you as the reader don’t have clue what is actually happening. In fact, if there were ever fanfiction I would want to read, it would be anything written from the perspective of the other characters in this book. You know, telling us what was actually happening. Here you have two men completely whacked out on multiple drugs…wouldn’t you just love to see what the scenarios were like from someone else’s perspective?? I can’t be the only one who thinks these accounts would be worth reading!

“We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”

Anyway, these scenes are absolutely insane. Everything in this story feels so over the top, yet so likely under the circumstances. When reading this book you’ll feel like you’re the one tripping your face off on all these drugs and questioning the reality of the world you live in.

The writing in this book is what surprised me the most. I had a basic idea of what the book was about and a very vague idea of who Hunter S. Thompson was before picking this book up. It amazed me how profound some of the thoughts were for a book about being whacked out of your mind. I really loved the writing and can’t wait to read more of his work. Sure it was vulgar, but when you set all that aside and look at what is being said, I think then you will begin to realize what an incredible mind he had.

“Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits -- a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”

I think this last quote I will share with you is probably the best summary of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas I could hope to give you. So, here it is:

“1) Never trust a cop in a raincoat.
2) Beware of enthusiasm and of love, both are temporary and quick to sway.
3) If asked if you care about the world's problems, look deep into the eyes of he who asks, he will never ask you again.
4) Never give your real name.
5) If ever asked to look at yourself, don't look.
6) Never do anything the person standing in front of you can't understand.
7) Never create anything, it will be misinterpreted, it will chain you and follow you for the rest of your life.”

Profile Image for André.
156 reviews70 followers
April 1, 2020
“We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.
Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”


...because no exciting story has ever begun with a "warm glass of milk before bedtime at 8:00 pm".

description

Terry Gilliam's adaptation movie is one of my all-time favourites, so, I couldn't miss the original piece by Hunter S. Thompson. Both the movie and the book have their own impact on pop culture, mainly for its unorthodox and controversial content.

Raoul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson) and his attorney, Dr Gonzo (Oscar Zeta Acosta) go to Las Vegas in 1971 to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race and the Narcotics convention for an unnamed magazine. Full of drugs, a rebel and daring spirit, both Duke and Dr Gonzo do everything except covering the race and the convention...
Restrained by the use of a mixture of recreational drugs, our fellow protagonists have the time of their lives by committing the craziest and unexpected acts, such as wrecking cars, cheating people, and crashing Hotel rooms. The hallucinations of animals in the desert and a distorted reality completes this road-trip fantasy.

I am always up to new experiences, and reading this kind of testimonies amuses me by cracking tons of laughs throughout the process.
The Dr of Journalism (as Duke calls himself) narrates all their experiences in an unusual way. The writing is coarse, simple and raw, but, that's what highlights this Vegas trip so well!
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a witness portion of the American subculture 1960s. It's a witness of Journalism that meets fiction in an engaging manner.

One thing is for sure, Duke and Gonzo are daring, careless and unorthodox, but their adventure is definitely the inner desire of so many regular folks out there!

“Too weird to live, too rare to die!”
Profile Image for Greg.
92 reviews150 followers
August 21, 2010
This is one of the few, if only times I will ever say this...go see the movie instead.

There was nothing wrong with this book mind you, had I never seen the movie before I would've considered it a totally original experience. But between the amazing portrail by Johnny Depp (and Del Toro), and the brilliant directing work by Gilliam, and the fact that the movie is an amazingly accurate adaptation of the source material, I can't really see a reason to read the book, when you can immerse yourself in the full experience of the movie.

Much of the book is in the movie practically word for word, and beyond that, this savage journey is exactly the type of story that is only aided by an immersive visual experience, since so much of it depends on the perception of the narrator.

Though I will say, reading the book forced me for the first time to contemplate the "meaning" behind the book. Does Duke find the American Dream? Is the book even remotely about the American dream? I think so, in Thompson's own perverse way, the book IS an exploration of the American Dream, or lack there of. I think part of his whole point is that no one really knows what they're looking for. That even the movements aimed at freeing ourselves and making change, ultimately failed. That it's all just a horrible fucked up mess. Thompson points out the hypocrisy and the ugliness of society, but chooses to embrace it and ride it for all its worth, rather than try to fix it. Why? He starts out the book with "he who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man." Here Thompson has given us his conclusion before we even begin reading about the search.
Profile Image for Steven Godin.
2,320 reviews2,195 followers
June 19, 2016
An oddball, wild and crazy thrill ride bursting at the seems with drugs, drugs, and even MORE drugs, how on earth I managed to get through this in one piece is beyond me but did spend a lot of the time laughing my socks off, even if I didn't really have a clue just what the hell was going on, but then again neither did Duke or Dr Gonzo so that makes three of us!. Can't think of anything else to date that comes even remotely close to this so credit to Mr Thompson for that. A total shot in the arm (no pun intended!).
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,327 followers
September 17, 2016
We knew a kid like Hunter Thompson. You know. He wasn't that cool, and he tried to compensate by being especially crazy. That was the kid who did like twice as many drugs as any of the rest of us, and it was annoying because inevitably we'd have to bail his ass out at some point - like, we'd be happily buzzing along, and then it'd be "Well, someone's gonna have to go dig Rick out from under the bed," or he's pissed his pants, or whatever.

Rick was a poser. I got that feeling even more from Thompson's Hell's Angels - it's not just about the drugs, it's also a kind of high-testosterone, gun-toting, motorcycle-riding aesthetic that he seems desperately to want to fit into, and he just doesn't. He's tolerated at best; and, memorably near the end of Hell's Angels, folks do seem to get sick of him after a while.

I've heard Fear & Loathing described as Thompson's elegy for the 60s, and I don't know what the fuck they're talking about, this doesn't seem anywhere near that well thought out. It seems to me like a braggy, over-the-top stream-of-consciousness diary. It is way better than Hell's Angels, though. It's actually really fun to read.

And, yeah, I guess as far as literary drug freakouts go, this is the apogee. I mean, it's really a drug freakout. Moment to moment, from exhilaration to paranoia to exhaustion and, incredibly, back around again like six times, it's one of the great literary binges of all time.

Top Five Literary Binges
Money, Martin Amis
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Kubla Khan, Coleridge
The Bacchae, Euripides
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

(No, you know what, I'm not going to put Alice in Wonderland on that list. I don't feel like it.)

So, look, yeah, it's good. It's "gonzo," which is a word that doesn't mean anything other than this book.* I liked reading it more than I liked digging Rick out from under the bed.




* and some gross porn. And the dude from the Muppets.
Profile Image for Stacey.
120 reviews
January 23, 2008
I wasn't blown away by anything about this book. Maybe it's because it's been built up as such a classic or maybe it's because it's just bad. I don't think it was bad because I thought it was so out there and wild and crazy. I thought it was bad because it pretended just writing about being wild and crazy makes it immediately worthwhile. Two guys testing their luck by breaking every law made while in Vegas and doing a bunch of drugs. I need more than this. The book really didn't have a plot. About two-thirds of the way through Thompson seemed to realize this and tried to give the book meaning with the "American Dream" concept, but it flatlined. On top of being pointless, it was also choppy.

One good thing about the book: it was short and quick so I was able to end my suffering in a timely manner.
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