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Sat Jun 30, 2012, 02:11 AM

Fear and Loathing 40 Years Later

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/books/2012/06/hunter_s_thompson_fear_and_loathing_on_the_campaign_trail_72_review_by_matt_taibbi_.html


I doubt any book means more to a single professional sect than Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 means to American political journalists. It’s been read and reread by practically every living reporter in this country, and just as you’re likely to find a dog-eared paperback copy of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop somewhere in every foreign correspondent’s backpack, you can still spot the familiar red (it was red back then) cover of Fear and Loathing ’72 poking out of the duffel bags of the reporters sent to follow the likes of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Barack Obama on the journalistic Siberia known as the Campaign Trail.

Decades after it was written, in fact, Fear and Loathing ’72 is still considered a kind of bible of political reporting. It’s given birth to a whole generation of clichés and literary memes, with many campaign reporters (including, unfortunately, me) finding themselves consciously or unconsciously making villainous Nixons, or Quislingian Muskies, or Christlike McGoverns out of each new quadrennial batch of presidential pretenders.

Even the process itself has evolved to keep pace with the narrative expectations for the campaign story we all have now because of Hunter and Fear and Loathing. The scenes in this book where Hunter shoots zingers at beered-up McGovern staffers at places like “a party on the roof of the Doral” might have just been stylized asides in the book, but on the real Campaign Trail they’ve become formalized parts of the messaging process, where both reporters and candidates constantly use these Thompsonian backdrops as vehicles to move their respective products.

...Some of this seems trite and clichéd now, but at the time, telling the world about all of these behind-the-scenes rituals was groundbreaking stuff. That this is a great piece of documentary journalism about how American politics works is beyond question—for as long as people are interested in the topic, this will be one of the first places people look to find out what our electoral process looks like and smells like and sounds like, off-camera. Thompson caught countless nuances of that particular race that probably eluded the rest of the established reporters. It shines through in the book that he was not merely interested in the 1972 campaign but obsessed by it, and he followed the minutiae of it with an addict’s tenacity.


from the new introduction to this groundbreaking book...

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Reply Fear and Loathing 40 Years Later (Original post)
RainDog Jun 2012 OP
mattclearing Jun 2012 #1
CleanLucre Jun 2012 #2
RainDog Jun 2012 #3
Warren DeMontague Jun 2012 #4

Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 02:43 AM

1. A personal favorite. n/t

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 02:58 AM

2. Here's to Hunter and the great Ralph Steadman

 

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 03:22 AM

3. HST in quotes

from various sources

There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.


Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!


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 a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time -- and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.


Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ''the rat race'' is not yet final.


America... just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.


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.


I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.


The trouble with Nixon is that he's a serious politics junkie. He's totally hooked and like any other junkie, he's a bummer to have around, especially as President.


Of all the men that have run for president in the twentieth century, only George McGovern truly understood what a monument America could be to the human race.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Jun 30, 2012, 04:13 AM

4. Sad that we have a few so-called "progressives" who sound more like Santorum than HS Thompson...

Especially on matters like the 1st Amendment, personal freedom, the drug war, etc.

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