It seems as if nothing known about Hunter Stockton Thompson is simple, authoritative, or goes without contention (even his birth date is occasionally contested as occurring between 1937 and 1939). Certain things are known for sure: He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jack (an insurance salesman) and Virginia (a homemaker) as the oldest of three children; his father died of a heart attack before he was sixteen, and he found himself sentenced and incarcerated for sixty days for the robbery of a service-station attendant before he completed high school. Thompson only served half that time as a result of good behavior and never actually completed high school.
As such, Thompson’s childhood established indicative trends that he would become synonymous with later in his adult life. As a child, Thompson reported for the Southern Star, a newspaper run and operated by children, where the Louisville Courier-Journal noted that he made approximately 10 to 15 cents an issue. Moreover, as mature as this vocational choice was at a young age, little compares to Thompson’s more mature indulgences for alcohol, women, and illegal behavior. Thompson’s friends and family attribute the loss of his father as being the major catalyst for his societal disregard. Others have argued that Thompson’s early life has been held up to too close a scrutiny because his deviant behavior is often invoked, but the rigor and voracity for reading instilled in him by his mother is often overlooked.
Thompson’s life took a series of missteps from that point forward. At age eighteen, Thompson enlisted and was subsequently discharged early from the U.S. Air Force in 1958. From there, he frequently was unable to hold down steady employment as a journalist at a variety of publications during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Thompson became somewhat of a vagrant and vagabond wandering the United States, trying to pen what he deemed to be the great American novel (later to become his eventually published 1998 book, The Rum Diary). His journalistic sojourn led him from New York to Big Sur, California, and onward from there to South America and the Caribbean islands as a...
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