I love this book, it is an amazing story and an amazing picture of the time and people it depicts. Reading it creates a great idea of the culture and era of the 1960's hippies, it is filled with characters including the Grateful Dead, Hell's Angels, Beatniks, Timothy Leary, the Beatles, and the central characters... Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.
Ken Kesey (authour of the excellent book "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") put together a group of adventurous people who took an infamous road trip through America, in a psychedelically painted bus and lots and lots and lots of LSD. They filmed the entire trip (which then influenced the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour" film), and met a lot of amazing people along the way.
The book "Acid Dreams: the CIA, LSD and the Sixties" (also excellent) has a section on Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, which really nicely sums up what is so appealing about these self-proclaimed freaks. While lots of stuffy academics led by Timothy Leary were taking acid and walking around with clipboards, taking notes about their psychological states and writing relatively technical manuals on how to reach enlightenment... Kesey and his group gave a new dimension to acid tripping. They were "regular" people (i.e.- not stuffy academics) who had a lot of fun and approached acid and life without rules, regulations, or expectations and they took acid on the street rather than in clinical settings with clipboards. On the way they had a lot of fun, and Tom Wolfe does an amazing job spinning it into this book. Reading it gives an excellent look into who did what when and where, so it gives a great introduction to the many characters that lived in this period, but the book would be even more fun for people already familiar with the characters in the book. The great charm of this story is that it depicts real people, many of them underground anti-heroes, but the story reads like an excellent novel. Amazing!