Outlaw Journalist
William McKeen
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Buy *Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson* by William McKeen online

Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson
William McKeen
W.W. Norton
448 pages
July 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Of all the biographies that have come out about Hunter Stockton Thompson, this is probably the finest. It is well-researched, deftly written, and comes from a place of respect and awe.

And this last piece is part of the problem. The people who write about Hunter are reluctant or unwilling or simply unable to reveal all of the great writer's very real flaws. There are lengthy accounts here about his drinking and drug intake, but it never says he was an alcoholic or calls him drug-addicted. It talks about his encounters with blacks, but the author never characterizes him as a racist. Author McKeen relates episodes Hunter had with women, and though Thompson may have "slapped" them, cheated on them, or otherwise abused them, he was never pictured as a wife-beater or, more generously, a misogynist.

Additionally, Hunter was an anti-Semite, a homophobe (his own younger brother was gay, and he could never reconcile himself to that fact), and an essentially terrible friend (borrowing money that never got repaid and treating longtime associates like second-class citizens).

This is where Outlaw Journalist - and all other books on Hunter - fail. They won't bring a focus to these very real and very terrible things. McKeen only touches on these pieces and devotes most of the book to Hunter's writings and innocent exploits.

Next year, Thompson's first wife, Sandy Conklin, is writing her own version of life with the Gonzoman. She is cited here and does reveal that the author treated her with disrespect, beat her, and barely acknowledged her. Maybe her book will contain the whole truth.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Steven Rosen, 2008

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