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8 Best Hunter S. Thompson Books (2024)

Best Hunter S. Thompson Books ReviewBio

Hunter Stockton Thompson was born on the 18th of July, in the year of 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky, United States of America. He was a famous American writer and journalist, namely known as being the gonzo journalism movement’s founder.


As noted above, he was born in Louisville, Kentucky. His family was middle class and he was the first of three sons of his mother Virginia Ray Davison, librarian at the Louisville Free Public Library, and Jack Robert Thompson, insurance adjuster and World War I veteran.

Best Hunter S. Thompson Books

Fending for Themselves

The family relocated, just as the to-be author had turned six, at 2437 Ransdell Avenue in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood, located in The Highlands. Sadly, when he was merely fourteen, his father passed away, leaving only his mother to provide and care for the children.

Nonetheless, he still preserved and prevailed against all the odds. Now, with all of that said, let’s take a look at what the best Hunter S. Thompson books are.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


An American Classic

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is rightfully one of the most popular Thompson books and best-selling Thompson books, as well. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was published in the year of 1971, spanning about 200 pages, all in all.

Just a Few Puffs

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas follows the author’s journey to Las Vegas in 1971. At that time he was a journalist for a sports magazine and was accompanied by his so-called lawyer who was quite fond of drugs. For better or worse, it seems, the two were using the opportunity to drive through the desert while screaming their lungs out, with the vehicle carrying a sizable portion of illegal drugs.

What They Came to Do

By happenstance, the two see a hitchhiker and pick them up, but the person doesn’t stay long because of their drug-influenced behavior. Soon enough, they stop at the Mint Hotel. The author’s task is to report on the motorcycle race that takes place on the outskirts of the city under the name Mint 400. Even though they had some initial difficulties with their reservations and their drug-induced condition, they still make it to the track.

Free to Do Anything

Unfortunately, at the beginning of the race, it is almost impossible to see how the off-road race is going because the dust from the dessert starts rising. The author goes about the race with little to no information.

The two then come back to the hotel to have a party of their lives with many casinos and bars in Las Vegas waiting for them. After a minor drug-related confrontation, Hunter is left alone with Vegas as his playground. And this is only the beginning of the story. Among the best books written by Hunter S. Thompson.

The Rum Diary


A Journal

The Rum Diary is, as far as Thompson novels list is concerned, the first novel that he ever penned. Accordingly, The Rum Diary is also one of the best Hunter S. Thompson books we’ve picked up so far. The Rum Diary was published in the year of 1998, spanning a bit over 200 pages, all in all.

Not What He Paid For

The story begins with a young writer in Puerto Rico doing an assignment for a newspaper that is only a couple of months from bankruptcy. Paul Kemp, the young man, has also come to Puerto Rico trying to find some adventure, though what he does find is not quite as adventurous as he might have preferred it. He finds violence, love, and envy, all of which are headed by rum.

Get the Edge Off

Just before he gets on the plane to Puerto Rico, Paul downs a bottle to survive the long flight more easily. He also sees an attractive girl who was boarding the same plane. He tried to save a seat for the girl, but an old man uses the chance and sits right next to him. Paul gets into an argument with the man which is not exactly how to make a good impression on a girl. The girl leaves to find another seat and Paul is left all alone in San Juan.

Slight Conundrum

When he arrives at the office of the newspaper, he meets a photographer named Richard Sala. It is Sala that takes Paul out to a bar, where Paul also gets the chance to meet a couple of other reporters. One of these reporters is the boyfriend of the girl that Paul found attractive on the plane which leaves him in a rather awkward situation. The night, however, is young. Quite possibly, the best Thompson novel.

Hell’s Angels


Fallen From Grace

Hell’s Angels is yet another terrific book on the Thompson books list. It is perhaps one of the best books to begin reading Hunter S. Thompson with, though no book is a bad start, per se. Hell’s Angels was published in the year of 1966, spanning 250 or so pages.

Mythical Gangs

Hell’s Angels is the account of the two years that the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang thrived in, namely focusing on the Oakland and San Francisco chapters of the sizable gang.

We begin with the nature and the background of the club, their importance in a social sense, and how they gained prominence in the media because of a number of very violent, heinous crimes. Then, the author also describes his experiences with a single run with the motorcycle club, as he participated in one.

Motorcycle Club

The motorcycle-mounting gang found San Francisco and Oakland to be two of the best spots for riding motorcycles. Motorcycle gangs, by and large, had their beginning during the Second World War, where vagabonds grouped together to protect themselves and others, but also to bolster a sense of friendship. The Hell’s Angels, in particular, were founded in 1950.

Not Averse to Crime

In 1964, the Hell’s Angels were accused of involvement in a vile and cruel gang rape of two young girls, both underage, with some of the members being arrested soon afterward.

Media reported the incident even though the charges were dropped not too long after. The now-notorious and infamous motorcycle club began being viewed as the pinnacle of the culture they followed. This is only the start of the tale, which we consider to be possibly Thompson’s best book.

The Gonzo Papers Series


Founding a Movement

The Gonzo Papers series is one of the best Hunter S. Thompson book series that we have ever seen or read. It contains a total of four novels, all of which deserve the moniker of being the top-rated Hunter S. Thompson books. These Hunter S. Thompson books in chronological order go as follows:

  1. The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time
  2. Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ‘80’s
  3. Songs of the Doomed: More Notes on the Death of the American Dream
  4. Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie

Portrait of the Age

Now, with these Thompson books in order, we can take a look at what they are all about. The Great Shark Hunt is the first novel, only setting up to hugely comedic, terrifically hilarious writing that would follow in all four of the series’ books.

The first book is quite vast in its accomplishments. It is a very, very insightful volume, featuring such brilliant clarity and wit that we can only expect to get from this particular author. The sixties and seventies have never been quite as colorful as in this book.

No One is Safe

It covers everything going from napalm to cocaine, from Nixon to Watergate, from Carter to Las Vegas, and so much more. All this is wonderfully enriched by the hypnotic writing style and the frivolous humor the author possesses.

There are a number of different essays present herein that you cannot find anywhere else. One such is titled The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved, which, it is believed, is wherefrom the gonzo journalistic movement stems. Among Thompson’s best books, doubtlessly.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72


If It Ain’t Broke…

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 is a book that ranks among the top few of the best and worst Hunter S. Thompson books, namely among the former. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 is also, we believe, one of the top Thompson books to read.

Not Liked By Many

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 chronicles Thompson’s story as he was trying to get his name known as an achieved journalist, despite the terrible handicap and flaw that he possessed – he was quite familiar with and thrived alongside counter -culture.

What the author managed to do was to use these same facets so that they were beneficial to his journalistic work rather than being his downfall.

Not Like the Others

For one, we don’t have to go any further than our very own Thompson book reviews to see how he did his best work when talking about certain criminal things, be it organizations or his own wonts.

While the author was a journalist, you could rarely catch him in the presence of other journalists. Nonetheless, he still succeeded in getting famous and he did it all by doing the things only he knew.

Introspective Volume

Even to us, his readers, he makes his introduction by painting himself as a sort of menacing Hippie, who found that drug culture wasn’t all that bad, and who frequently faced problems between being a gentleman and being a tough-made man.

There is probably no better descriptor of these kinds of things than the author right here. We really cannot recommend this book just enough.

The Fear and Loathing Letters Series



The Fear and Loathing Letters series is another of the best Thompson best series that we’ve had the pleasure of reading. The series is comprised of only three books, all in all, but they are truly among the best-rated Thompson books ever. The book order goes like this:

  1. The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
  2. Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1968-1976
  3. The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop, 1977-2005

Exchanging Word

The Proud Highway is yet another brilliant book from the masterful hands of Thompson. Here, we can find some of the most intimate, most private, and most revealing letters that one of the United States’ most famous journalists had.

It is a very important book, not just in the oeuvre of the author, but for anyone willing to find out who exactly Thompson was. It’s not just one of the top Thompson books, but possibly the best Hunter S. Thompson book.

Spirit of the ’60s

With letters going from Tom Wolfe to Joan Baez, all the way from Lyndon Johnson to William Styron, and Charles Kuralt and Norman Mailer, the NRA, countless newspaper editors, and even his own mother, the volume is a very, very complete one.

There is hardly a book that captures the spirit of the 1960s as beautifully as this one. With a fervor that cannot be matched, this book is one that we wholeheartedly recommend.

The Curse of Lono


Damnable Blessing

The Curse of Lono is not just any ordinary entry on the list of Thompson’s books, but one of the absolute best Thompson novels. Very scarcely you can find any of the other novels by Thompson as invigorating as this one. The Curse of Lono was published in the year of 1983.

All the Way

The Curse of Lono sees our brilliant author and storyteller on a trip to Hawaii to, once again, cover a race for a sports magazine. Soon enough, it becomes evident that the short trip is going to be a lot lengthier than first anticipated.

Bad weather is the culprit, but it allows the writer to take a look at and examine pieces of Hawaiian legend, folklore, and more generally the life on the island.

Bizarre Characters

Luckily for Thompson, he is not alone, but he is accompanied by the artist Ralph Steadman. On the trip to Honolulu, he also meets a man named Ackerman, an entrepreneur.

At the airport, he is picked up by a CIA pilot and former opium trafficker named Gene Skinner, who, also, acts as the author’s photographer– go figure. Ralph and Hunter go to a party, where Ralph isn’t exactly the life of the party due to certain injuries.

No Boring Hour

The following day, the trio covers the marathon, extolling loud profanities towards the marathon runners as they make their laps.

As you could have expected, when the marathon is covered, the three of them don’t know what to do, so they set off on an adventure and we all know what kind of adventures our favorite author was all about. It is also one of Hunter S. Thompson’s books ranked as the top.



Not What You Think

Screwjack is, without a doubt, one of the best books by Hunter S. Thompson, period. Screwjack was published in the year of 2000, spanning only a mere sixty or so pages, all in all. Now, let’s see why we consider Screwjack to be one of the best books of Thompson.


Screwjackis a three-story collection, though they aren’t connected in any narrative way other than being put together in the volume, at hand. The three stories are Mescalito, Death of a Poet, and the eponymous Screwjack.

Mescalito sees our great author taking a mescaline drug trip while at a Los Angeles hotel in 1969. He was being pressured by the newspaper to put out new pages, but writer’s block being what writer’s block is, wasn’t going to let him. Thus, enters mescaline.

Wagering Everything

The second story, Death of a Poet, sees our storyteller arriving in Green Bay just as the Packers hadn’t been successful at winning a certain game. This left the whole town without enthusiasm and morose.

Our author visited a friend who had bet on the Packers and now, for more than one reason, went bankrupt. The same friend also had a blow-up doll in his kitchen, which, as it turned out, he frequented with his fists to keep his marriage afloat.

Tad Unsettling

Finally, Screwjack sees Raoul Duke sending a letter in which he spoke of the love and hate relationship he had with his tomcat, which was aptly named Mr. Screwjack. The story is quite bizarre. For example, seeing the Duke kissing the feline, only to throw it out of his home the same night. It is an intriguing story, though, nothing can take that away.

Michael Englert

Michael is a graduate of cultural studies and history. He enjoys a good bottle of wine and (surprise, surprise) reading. As a small-town librarian, he is currently relishing the silence and peaceful atmosphere that is prevailing.