Timothy Denevi’s new book Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson’s Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism, due out October 30th from PublicAffairs/Hachette, considers how a would-be novelist became a crusader against the threat of fascism in America, and what it cost him. The lyric biography reclaims Thompson for the enigmatic true believer he was: not a punchline or a cartoon character, but a fierce, colorful opponent of fascism in a country that suddenly seemed all too willing to accept it.
As the Kennedy assassination and the turmoil of the 60s paved the way for Richard Nixon, Thompson greeted him with two very powerful emotions: fear and loathing. In his fevered effort to take down what he saw as a rising dictator, Thompson made a kind of Faustian bargain, taking the drugs he needed to meet newspaper deadlines and pushing himself beyond his natural limits. For ten years, he cast aside his old ambitions, troubled his family, and likely hastened his own decline, along the way producing some of the best political writing in our history.
February 15, 2018