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Hunter S. Thompson

1937 - 2005

Hunter S. Thompson

One of the greatest misnomers in Twentieth Century letters is to label Hunter a journalist. A humorous writer, yes. an entertainer, certainly; a journalist, no.

And far from being a new innovation, Hunter's "gonzo journalism" was really nothing beyond what was being cranked out for the various "men's magazines" like True (The Man's Magazine) and Argosy (The Complete Man's Magazine). Such magazines began springing up as early as the late nineteenth century and hit their stride in the 1930's through the 1970's.

Although many of the tales were penned by some of the top authors and a surprising number of contributions had actual literary merit, a common motif was where the writer was reporting the more unusual events of the wide world. But to appeal to the macho self-image harbored by the subscribers, the author would include himself as a full participant in the story. So you might have the writer getting bitten by cobras in the jungles of India, climbing the "8000 meter" peaks in the Himalayas, or being adopted by women of a native tribe in the Congo (a process that might include an obligatory "ritual breast feeding" ceremony).

But what you have with Hunter is his "adventures" driving around, taking drugs, and drinking Wild Turkey.

As far as the veracity of his stories, we won't even begin to get into that.

At least not yet.

Humorous and amusing writing, indeed; fun stories to read, true; but not journalism.

Edward R. Murrow; now he was a journalist.