Kingdom of Fear is one of the many works of the great Hunter S. Thompson. Yet unlike his previous books which consisted of letters, reporting and his infamous Gonzo-style of journalism/fiction, Kingdom of Fear is a different breed.
Written by Hunter himself, this book seemed like a biography of Thompson seen through his eyes. Specifically, its underlying purpose appeared to be for the author to tie up loose ends in any matters whatsoever associated with his professional or personal life…well, sort of.
If you’re a HST fan, you’re probably not unfamiliar with his style of writing being labeled as offbeat, confusing, controversial or mythological. The myth is essentially Thompson himself, who forever in his career dodged questions of his lifestyle, most of which insisted on dividing the line between fact and fiction within his writing.
More so, Thompson always seemed to answer these inquiries with another question or theory, making us not only feel dumb, but like we should stop examining his life under a microscope and start taking his writing for what it is; exaggerations possibly included.
Whatever your opinion on Hunter’s work, Kingdom of Fear is one of the last books written before his untimely death in 2005, and besides showing Hunter’s side of the story regarding his career, it provides valuable and freakishly accurate information regarding America’s current situation and ominous future.
“…After the year 2000, the only people who’ll be safe to have as friends will be dead people.”
As his style, Kingdom of Fear is definitely not free from bashing of despised political figures. However, there is less fierceness in these words than seen previously, and they come across more like calm warnings of the future than criticism of the present. His predictions for America were often dead-on even in their early stages, such as in 1998, when he predicted the economic state of America after the new millennium being completely devoid of hope; specifically he hypothesized that this generation will be the first to have a lower standard of living than that of their parents.
One of my favorite passages regarding these manners is found within “Jesus Hated Bald Pussy”:
“We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world- a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us…No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we’ll kill you….Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush? They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us- they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis….”
As far as his life itself, Hunter only briefly discusses his childhood, his often unjust run-ins with the law, his days of politics and current activism, his times as “The Night Manager,” his love of everything fast, and what constitutes the “too much fun club.”
Most of what is written about his own life in this book seems to mirror the many twists and turns present in his Gonzo novels; just as readers are sure they’re getting to know him, he’ll throw you some outrageous brain food to chew on that’ll have you soon forgetting the former information.
My favorite parts of this book, and without a doubt the most sincere, were the moments when Hunter describes how he “just knew” that he had to be a writer. He often describes writing as a hellish profession, but one that provides a high he can’t find in any drug. I can certainly relate.
Influenced by the words of his former love, Anita, Hunter at the end of the novel claims he’s escaped fate many times with “luck, a keen attention to karma (and his) natural girlish charm.”
However he managed to live his life, he always did so with integrity and a sense of humor.
“At the top of the mountain we are all snow leopards.”