There's a certain amount of danger when writing about a man like Hunter S. Thompson. Figuratively and literally. Figuratively, in that Thompson is still vital and practicing his art. Any biography, therefore, will be incomplete. Literally, in that Thompson is a violent and unstable man with a fondness of firearms and extreme action. He's the type to come looking for you.
Thompson has been many things to many people, which is a testament to his talent. His books have transcended social barriers and have become almost required reading for many diverse, almost diametrically opposed audiences -- law enforcement officials and restless youth, politicians and journalism students, to name a few. If this sounds a bit bold, consider the following:
His first published novel, The Hell's Angels, was the first detailed expose written from within the motorcycle club. It was so in-depth on the workings of the Angels that it became a training manual on dealing with motorcycle clubs for many police departments.
Probably his most famous work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, became a living bible for the drug culture and rebel youth, having a similar impact as On The Road did in the previous decade.
His following novel Fear and Loathing on the '72 Campaign Trail was and still is a must-read for politicians and those whose livelihoods depend on understanding the workings of the political arena.
What made these works so special is not so much the subject matter, but the way in which Thompson wrote. His form was wild and breathless, catching action as it was happening, cutting through the bullshit, fictionalizing here and there, and making sense of it all later (It's no surprise to learn that Kerouac was one of Thompson's biggest influences). Thompson's form became known as "Gonzo Journalism", a term which was coined by Thompson's good friend, occasional cohort and fellow journalist, Bill Cardoso.