Savage Journey: Hunter S. Thompson and the Weird Road to Gonzo by Peter Richardson
Hardcover – University of California Press – Jan 2022 – 271 pages
Savage Journey is a “supremely crafted” study of Hunter S. Thompson’s literary formation and achievement. Focusing on Thompson’s influences, development, and unique model of authorship, Savage Journey argues that his literary formation was largely a San Francisco story. During the 1960s, Thompson rode with the Hell’s Angels, explored the San Francisco counterculture, and met talented editors who shared his dissatisfaction with mainstream journalism. Author Peter Richardson traces Thompson’s transition during this time from New Journalist to cofounder of Gonzo journalism. He also endorses Thompson’s later claim that he was one of the best writers using the English language as both a musical instrument and a political weapon. Although Thompson’s political commentary was often hyperbolic, Richardson shows that much of it was also prophetic.
Fifty years after the publication of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and more than a decade after his death, Thompson’s celebrity continues to obscure his literary achievement. This book refocuses our understanding of that achievement by mapping Thompson’s influences, probing the development of his signature style, and tracing the reception of his major works. It concludes that Thompson was not only a gifted journalist, satirist, and media critic, but also the most distinctive American voice in the second half of the twentieth century.