Outlaw Journalist: The Life And Times Of Hunter S Thompson Hardcover – Jun 24 2008
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A definitive biography. . . . [McKeen] presents the life of this gifted yet troubled artist, warts and all, and he also takes the full measure of Thompson’s journalistic accomplishment . . . a comprehensive portrait. — Louisville Courier-Journal
The best record to date of Thompson’s life. — New York Observer
Essential. — Miami Herald
Read it or die. — Greg Palast
About the Author
William McKeen is the author of Highway 61 and editor of Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay. A journalism professor at the University of Florida, he lives with his family near Wacahoota, Florida.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
High praise for William McKeen from The Good Doctor using his own unique mode of expression. Thompson was referring to the William McKeen's book called "Hunter S. Thompson" written in 1991. This was the first book aboutThompson and by far the most popular, perhaps until now with the release of McKeen's new book about Thompson called "Outlaw Journalist."
William McKeen first met Hunter in the late 70s when he interviewed him on stage at Western Kentucky University. No doubt this meet must have been an important one for McKeen who had been a fan of Thompson, and still is. "When I met him, I was struck by his manners and his genuine interest in me and everyone else he met that night." McKeen told me. Though they didn't become what you'd call "close friends" McKeen did have an impact on Thompson later on. As Anita Thompson (Hunters' widow) said "William was a good friend to Hunter" and as Hunter said himself of McKeen "He understands me." To write about a writer like Thompson must have been a daunting task but McKeen came up trumps with his 1991 account of Thompson's life, and considering HST liked it, that in it's self is no mean feat.
When I heard "Outlaw Journalist" was in the works my first thought was; oh no, not another biography about the good Doctor. I was of the opinion that the Thompson`s life story had been squeezed dry, it didn't occur to me that this one could be different. I read it in two sittings and was surprised by how sharp and savvy it was. I am a fan of Hunter Thompson, I'm also a proponent of keeping his memory alive, and I enjoyed this bio as a fan, but it's also very readable for someone new to the sometimes complex journalistic style, and life of HST.
This is the second trip McKeen takes into the world of HST. He leads us down a fine line between the crazy behaviour, and the exceptional writing talent of the Gonzo commentator. It's done with a skill that has eluded Hunters' other biographers. McKeen explores the undesirable side of Thompson whilst his focus is on the writing skills, and aptitude for perfection that Thompson put into most of his work. We are also shown some of the more disappointing times in his life as a journalist, like his failure (and utter lack of interest) to write about the Ali vs. Foreman fight in Zaire where he chose to float in a swimming pool full of sodden marijuana (which he had dumped in himself.) George Plimpton is quoted in the book as saying "Thompson's readers were not interested in the event at all-whether it was the Super Bowl or politics or a championship fight in Zaire but only how the event affected their author." From a fans point of view Hunters' lack of interest was a huge disappointment and regrettably not the only one in his writing career.
The people interviewed for the book were the ones closest to Thompson, the ones who knew him and spent most time with him, not the hangers-on. Folks like some of his high school friends, Deborah Fuller his long time assistant, Anita Thompson, Bob Braudis, Ralph Steadman, Jann Wenner, and many more, all of which serves to tighten the purpose of the otherwise well researched book.
From birth to death to blasted from a cannon. We get an ordered and honest account of his life with many details that will be new to most Hunter Thompson fans. An attention-grabbing look at how Thompson operated, disrupted, succeeded and failed. His health gradually went downhill before his own eyes and he was helpless to stop it. He conceded. Finishing off, McKeen gives a moving account of the blast-off service held at Hunter's "Fortified compound" where his long time wish of his ashes being shot from a huge cannon was honoured by his friends and family, with the bill footed by Johnny Depp, and attended by 150 guests including Senators and stars. A fitting send off for Hunter. And if this is to be the last biography about HST I could live with that.