A Reader Asks

Page added Aug-17-99
Last updated: Fall 2005

Here's an odd gem of a page that doesn't seem to have been linked from the main page all these years! Occasionally I pulled a really good reader question and wrote something about! --Christine O

Every now and then I get a really good question that would be too selfish to reply to in just an email. Erin writes:

Is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas related to Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail? I have read Las Vegas and I loved the movie. The local bookstore can order The Rum Diary for me, but not Campaign Trail. Is it out of print or what?

Well Erin, the similarities between the two books are a bit of a stretch. Both deal with a sort of death of the American Dream, both feature Richard Nixon, and even Raoul Duke gets a mention as the inventor of the Mojo Wire (fax machine - interesting story here - Max Pavlesky was a major investor in Rolling Stone and a friend of HST's. He worked for Xerox after his small computer company was bought by them). The attorney, Oscar Acosta, is slightly mentioned here and there throughout the book.

Both books were serialized in Rolling Stone and both were illustrated by Ralph Steadman. However, it would be an even bigger stretch to say that Trail is a direct sequel to FLLV. Not only is it bigger, it is much more "straight" and at times seems cobbled together, which it was. Trail is a compilation of all of the old RS articles, with a few changes here and there. Many of the illustrations that were included in the magazine did not end up in the book. I have many of these old issues, and often you can find them quite cheaply. You don't want to pay too much for them - most are ripped, soiled - and let's face it, old newsprint doesn't keep well in someone's damp basement.

Trail is HST at his Menckenian best, snarling at candidates, dreaming up incredible tales of back room deals (you'll love the part about Squane). However, some parts seem less relevant, or even boring, such as the interviews HST conducts, or a ramble that rambled on just a wee bit too far. Travelling with square journalists back then couldn't have been too much fun, and I think it is much to HST's credit that he could make all those bus, train and plane rides seem exciting.

Trail is still in print and easily orderable from Amazon

You can buy it from any online bookstore or used, locally. The most common one to find is the red Warner paperback (I have a white Warner pbk, and a black version as well). If you want to dig a little deeper and get a hardcover, you can check out Alibris, ABE and eBay for a ton of used online booksellers. However, don't expect to find one too cheap - most start at $200US and up. Many people didn't take HST or the book seriously back then.

In some ways, Trail is a downer. Hindsight can make it painful to read. However, it is still regarded fondly for it's wit and uniqueness in a time of tight pack journalism. I think people always hoped that HST would write another book, but in some regards, celebrity and high expectations got in the way.