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Hunter S. Thompson aka "Gonzo"

Updated on August 13, 2013

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, KY on July 18, 1937. He grew up in the Highlands Neighborhood where he attended Atherton High School and later switched to Manual High School in Old Louisville. Thompson's writing career began when he was found guilty of robbery in 1956 and joined the Air Force as part of his sentence. After transferring to a few different bases he ended up at Eglin Air Force base in Florida where he worked for “The Command Courier” as their sports journalist. He later went on to attend Columbia University in New York to study creative writing.


Thompson is credited with creating the "Gonzo" style of journalism which consists of the writer becoming a part of the story that he/she is reporting. This was first displayed in his article “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” in which he described his experience partying in the infield of Church Hill Downs during the 1970 Kentucky Derby. After this article was written Thompson used his Gonzo style in many of his writings for the rest of his career.

Famous Novels

Thompson is known for his novel titled “Hell’s Angels” which is an account of his experiences of traveling, drinking and documenting the famous motorcycle gang. He remained friends with the Hell's Angels after the book was published until he tried to intervene in a domestic dispute. Thompson observed a member of the Hell's Angels nicknamed "Junkie George" severely beating his wife. While the man was assaulting the woman his own dog ran over and bit him. Thompson walked over to the couple and shouted "Only a punk beats his wife and dog" which made the Angels turn on him. Thompson was badly beaten to a bloody pulp.

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" is one of Thompson's most famous novels. It is about a journalist named Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo taking a trip to Las Vegas to cover the Narcotics Officer's Convention but end up on a drug induced journey. The book contains autobiographical content about Thompson in which Raoul Duke is the fictional character portraying him. The book was later made into a popular movie. Thompson’s fictional character is played by Johnny Depp, who is also a native of Kentucky. “The Rum Diary” is another one of Thompson’s famous novels. It is about a journalist named Paul Kemp that moved to Puerto Rico for a job which Thompson actually did in real life. The book was also made into a movie with the lead role of Paul Kemp being played by Johnny Depp. The movie premiers in theaters on October 28, 2011.


Hunter S. Thompson for Sheriff!

In 1970 Thompson ran for Sheriff of Pitkin County in Aspen, Colorado. His campaign goals were to decriminalize drug use and stop the destruction of the countryside by putting building restrictions into effect. He also wanted to change the name of Aspen to “Fat City” which he thought would deter rich investors from using the city as a vacationing destination. Thompson promised the public that he would not use mescalin or other recreational drugs while on duty. The rival political parties opposed the election of Thompson so much that the Republican candidate dropped out of the race so the Democratic candidate would have a chance to win. Thompson lost by about 400 votes.


On February 20, 2005 Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide. He died of a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head while talking to his wife on the phone. It is believed that he killed himself because of his painful medical conditions. Thompson’s ashes were later shot out of a cannon in Colorado at a private funeral funded by his close friend Johnny Depp.


Hunter S. Thompson was perhaps one of the greatest contributors to the world of writing. It is a shame there will not be anymore new work published by him but you can always enjoy what he wrote in the past. Here is a list of his books that are available.

  • The Rum Diary: A Novel
  • Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
  • Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72
  • The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time
  • The Curse of Lono
  • Generation of Swine: Tales od Shame and Dedegradation in the 80’s
  • Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream
  • Screwjack: A Short Story
  • Better than Sex
  • Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century
  • Hey Rube: Blood Sport, The Bush Doctrine, and The Downward Spiral of Dumbness Modern History from the Sports Desk


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    • Dustin Staples profile image

      Dustin Staples 5 years ago from California

      This guys is such the bad-ass, and i couldn't agree with Simone more, im going to start with "Fear and Loathing" and see how far that takes me. Thanks for the hub. Thompson really knew what it meant to put quality inspiration in his books.

    • hubber088 profile image

      hubber088 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Very interesting hub. I am fascinated by Thompson.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I have only read Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- I can't believe I haven't read more of his work! I appreciate the reminder- and the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating man's life.

      I can't believe he ran for sheriff. I totally would have voted for him if given the chance. Heck, I would have campaigned for him!