Hunter S Thompson Quotes

Hunter S. Thompson on Las Vegas: Five Memorable Quotes

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Hunter S. Thompson, the legendary author and journalist, had a unique relationship with Las Vegas, immortalized in his 1971 book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. His vivid descriptions and sharp wit painted the city in a light that few others have matched. Here are five of Thompson’s most iconic quotes about Las Vegas, each revealing a different facet of his complex view of the city.

1. “A little bit of this town goes a very long way.”

This succinct observation captures Thompson’s ambivalence about Las Vegas. To him, Las Vegas was a city of excess—where the relentless pursuit of pleasure and the neon-lit landscape could overwhelm anyone who wasn’t prepared. His writing often conveyed a sense of both awe and caution, suggesting that while Las Vegas had an irresistible allure, it could quickly become too much. The city, with its 24-hour casinos and endless entertainment options, was thrilling but also exhausting. Thompson’s perspective reminds us that while indulgence can be exciting, moderation is essential to truly appreciate what Las Vegas has to offer.

2. “Las Vegas is not the kind of town where you want to drive down Main Street aiming a black bazooka at people.”

This quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas highlights Thompson’s surreal and often darkly humorous view of the city. It reflects his experiences and the underlying chaos he perceived in Las Vegas. The hyperbolic imagery of driving down Main Street with a bazooka underscores the city’s volatile energy and the madness he felt while navigating its extremes. This metaphorical bazooka symbolizes the destructive tendencies that can emerge in an environment where conventional rules seem suspended.

3. “In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

In this reflection, Thompson delves deeper into the moral landscape of Las Vegas. The city, known for its gambling and hedonism, serves as a microcosm of a society where ethical boundaries are blurred. For Thompson, Las Vegas epitomized a place where everyone is complicit in the pursuit of personal gain, and intelligence is measured by one’s ability to navigate this treacherous terrain without getting caught. This quote captures the darker underbelly of the city, where survival often depends on cunning and a keen understanding of the unspoken rules.

4. “There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Strip, then up in the Flamingo or down at the Tropicana, watching the chimps ‘play basketball’.”

This quote paints a vivid picture of the frenetic energy and absurdity Thompson observed in Las Vegas. The image of chimps playing basketball is a metaphor for the surreal, often ridiculous nature of the city’s attractions. It reflects his view that Las Vegas is a place where normalcy is upended, and bizarre spectacles are a regular part of the entertainment landscape. The quote underscores the sense of pervasive madness that Thompson felt defined the city, a theme that runs throughout Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

5. “Hallucinating is a good way to get perspective on Las Vegas.”

This quote captures the essence of Thompson’s “gonzo journalism,” where he immersed himself in his subject to an extreme degree. His use of hallucinogens while writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a means of experiencing the city’s madness on a deeper level. For Thompson, Las Vegas was a place where reality itself seemed to bend, and hallucinations became a tool to understand its chaotic essence. This perspective highlights the city’s surreal nature and the thin line between reality and illusion that defines the Las Vegas experience.


Hunter S. Thompson’s reflections on Las Vegas offer a blend of admiration, caution, and dark humor. His quotes reveal the city as a place of overwhelming excess, moral ambiguity, and surreal spectacle. Through his unique lens, Thompson captured the paradoxical allure of Las Vegas, a city where dreams and nightmares often converge in a dazzling neon haze.

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