Hunter Thompson, RIP

Law professor Paul Campos seems to me to come closer to an accurate assessment of the life and work of Hunter Thompson than anyone else whom I have read on the subject (and I’ve read a lot): “The man, the myth, the mess.” Campos’s best line is this one: “Thompson was a talented journalist posing as a drug addict, who eventually became a drug addict posing as a journalist.”
Although I think the column nails Thompson, I wonder if Campos has read the Thompson books to which he refers. The column begins with a famous quotation from Samuel Johnson that is derived from Boswell’s Life of Johnson; Campos doesn’t note that Thompson himself borrowed the quote to use as the epigraph to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Moreover, Campos describes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as “over-praised,” while asserting that it performed “a useful service.” (Incidentally, in the book’s “about the author” note, Thompson writes that he has “an atavistic fondness for the .44 magnum.” Thompson killed himself with a .45 caliber handgun.)
I read the book thirty years ago and thought it was a comic masterpiece. I don’t think that it would amuse me now, but I doubt that anyone who describes it as “useful” has read it. (Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)


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