Beat reporter Raoul Duke (Hunter S. Thompson) embarks on a drug-fueled romp through Las Vegas and the surrounding areas with the help of his sidekick attorney, Dr. Gonzo, to report on the Mint 400 motorcycle race. A gritty beat reporter going by the pseudonym Raoul Duke drives to Las Vegas, Nevada, with his attorney Dr. Gonzo. The two men have apparently accepted an assignment to report on the Mint 400, a motorcycle race taking place in a dusty ring just outside of Sin City. Duke and Gonzo are quickly sidetracked by the trunk full of narcotics and psychedelic drugs that they describe in detail during their car trip through the desert.
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Under the influence of ether, cocaine and LSD among a number of other substances, Duke hallucinates a pack of vicious bats chasing his car all the way to his hotel. When he arrives at the hotel, the drugs continue to affect Duke's consciousness and the narrative of the book dives deeper into the surreal. Duke hallucinates a race of anthropomorphic dinosaurs that he describes as "lizards" inhabiting the hotel bar. The sight of the lizard people freaks him out and he retreats to his hotel room with Dr. Gonzo.
Duke's narrative fluctuates between commentary on American society in the wake of the 1960s cultural revolution and abject, drug-fueled insanity. He and his attorney destroy their hotel room while experimenting with a fictional drug called Adrenochrome. The trip is described as a "terrifying experience with a really dangerous drug."
The next morning, Duke and Gonzo head into the desert to cover the motorcycle race that only nominally brought them to Vegas. The dust kicked up by the Mint 400 racers is described in great detail by Duke and the reader is led to believe visibility problems make it almost impossible to cover the event. Still under the influence of psychedelic drugs, Duke and Gonzo hallucinate more fictional desert beasts around the raceway. It's at this time that Duke starts to become paranoid about his drug binge. He worries that he will be outed in public and that security at the hotel might uncover the cache of illicit substances in his hotel room.
Eager to depart for his hometown of Los Angeles, Duke receives a call from his newspaper asking him to remain in Las Vegas another night to cover a DEA and law enforcement convention taking place at his hotel. Because he is in no condition to drive all the way back to California, Duke agrees to take the assignment and proceeds down to the lobby to mingle with police.
The convention is more boring than dangerous. Duke learns very little from the officers in attendance other than the fact that their drug war is viewed as an unmitigated failure. One agent estimates that law enforcement is at least ten years behind the drug problem in America.
Disillusioned by the conference experience, Duke takes his attorney to the airport and decides it's time for him to leave for Los Angeles as well.
Best part of story, including ending:
Fear and Loathing is a classic piece of American literature and arguably Thompson's finest work. The rare nuggets of insight about American society wedged between the surrealist depictions of drug use give the whole story meaning.
Best scene in story:
In a rare contemplative moment, Duke stares out at desert landscape and delivers the famous wave metaphor for the death of 60s counterculture.
Opinion about the main character:
Duke makes for fascinating narrator, describing episodes of drug-fueled insanity in a manner that is simultaneously fun and cautionary.
A young journalist, fresh from the drug culture of the 60s, arrives in Las Vegas (1971) to cover the annual bikers race out in the desert with his good friend, Dr. Gonzo (a lawyer).
Both arrive in a fancy white sports car (dubbed the Great White Shark) zonked out on drugs and remain that way, receiving a new assignment to cover the annual Law Enforcement Meeting On Drugs and generally scaring the tourists, and annoying the natives.
Along the way crazy stuff happens, usually with our protagonists sniffing, smoking, or chewing something. They pick up a hitchhiker, ruin a hotel room, and harrass a car full of poor, old Southern folk (all under the safety of a fake name, of course).
The review of this Book prepared by Nico Self