Hunter S. Thompson was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937. After high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force where he wrote about sports for the base newspaper. After being discharged, he continued as a journalist for a number of small-town newspapers.
On assignment at the Kentucky Derby, Thompson inadvertantly invented what became known as Gonzo Journalism, characterized by the insertion of the journalist into the story and a sense of narrative structure like that typically found in fiction.
"I'd blown my mind, couldn't work," he told Playboy. "So finally I just started jerking pages out of my notebook and numbering them and sending them to the printer. I was sure it was the last article I was ever going to do for anybody."
In addition to his journalistic writing, Thompson became known for his books. In 1971, he published Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which recounts a drug-addled trip to Las Vegas taken by Raoul Duke, a fictiitious journalist, and his 300-pound Samoan attorney, presumably Thompson and his lawyer friend, Oscar Zeta Acosta.
Thompson was well-known for his eccentric drug and firearm centric lifestyle and his acerbic attacks on the establishment, but some of his greatest work is that which highlights his strengths as a gonzo journalist proper. If you've never read any of Hunter Thompson's books, may I suggest Hell's Angels (1966) in which Thompson paints a vivid portrait of the lives of the members of the outlaw biker gang in true gonzo style by inserting himself into their experiences.
Hunter S. Thompson died on February 20, 2005 in his Woody Creek, Colorado home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
(1937 - 2005)
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