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Outlaw Journalist: The Life And Times Of Hunter S Thompson Hardcover – Jun 24 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; First Edition edition (June 24 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393061922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393061925
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 4.1 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,232,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'll keep this one short! If you want to read a little more into HST this is the one to go for hands down! The reason why is because McKeen dives quickly past the "smoke and mirrors" of the "character" HST (drugs, booze, guns, overall insane behaviour) and gets well founded and descriptive into his mind, work, and real attitude. If you want to read gossipy drug tales and assorted nonsense find another book, this is the real deal, and if you're like me and read alot of HST then you know there was a wickedly intelligent pioneer there in both fiction and journalism. A fascinating read and a must have for any substantial fans. So there, that wasn't too bad was it? Highly recommended!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the Book, Take the Ride July 7 2008
By J. Marvel - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
McKeen has quite simply put together the definitive biography on Thompson, a work that would have Hunter writing and sending screeds via fax to everyone, yet deep down secretly admiring for its depth and brilliance. There are many legends, but "Outlaw Journalist" sorts fact from fiction and gives an honest take of Gonzo from beginning to end. There would be no higher tribute to the good doctor than buying McKeen's book and throwing it on the expense account along with three bottles of Wild Turkey and some Doritos ...
5.0 out of 5 stars fine service. Book as advertised July 27 2016
By MG - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
fine service. Book as advertised.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good job in balancing the legend and the man. April 12 2009
By Alan Drobnak - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I lived on the property next to Thompson in the 80's and knew him as portrayed in this book. I sold him the Pontiac convertible that is in a couple of the photos. The writing here is tight and moves along well. From my experiences with Hunter this has a BS-factor of about 1 on a scale of 5, good job.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outlaw Journalist Jan. 9 2010
By Maurice des DeuxMeaux - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some brilliant insights here into what made the famous Gonzo journalist tick. You wouldn't want a dry, academic biography of someone like Hunter S. Thompson, and McKeen, happily, gives the reader a rousing and picaresque ride for his money.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensible Take on a Weird Life Oct. 7 2009
By Martin Flynn - Published on
Format: Paperback
[...]. I warned you not to write that vicious trash about me. Now you better get fitted for a black eye patch in case one of yours gets gouged out by a bushy haired-stranger in a dimly-lit parking lot. How fast can you learn Braille? You are scum. HST."

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.