The novel first appeared as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971, was published as a book in 1972, and was later adapted into a film of the same name in 1998 by Terry Gilliam, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro who portrayed Raoul Duke and Dr. The novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on two trips to Las Vegas, Nevada, that Hunter S.Thompson took with attorney and Chicano activist Oscar Zeta Acosta in March and April 1971.The first trip resulted from an exposé Thompson was writing for Rolling Stone magazine about the Mexican-American television journalist Rubén Salazar, whom officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had shot and killed with a tear gas grenade fired at close range during the National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War in 1970.
He had first submitted a 2,500-word manuscript to Sports Illustrated that was "aggressively rejected".
Weeks later, Thompson and Acosta returned to Las Vegas to report for Rolling Stone on the National District Attorneys Association's Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs being held from 25–29 April 1971, and to add material to the larger Fear and Loathing narrative.
Besides attending the attorneys' conference, Thompson and Acosta looked for ways in Vegas to explore the theme of the American Dream, which was the basis for the novel's second half, to which Thompson referred at the time as "Vegas II".
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a novel by Hunter S. The book is a roman à clef, rooted in autobiographical incidents.
The story follows its protagonist, Raoul Duke, and his attorney, Dr.
Gonzo, as they descend on Las Vegas to chase the American Dream through a drug-induced haze, all the while ruminating on the failure of the 1960s countercultural movement.
The work is Thompson's most famous, and is noted for its lurid descriptions of illegal drug use, its early retrospective on the culture of the 1960s, and its popularization of Thompson's highly subjective blend of fact and fiction that has become known as gonzo journalism.
The two needed a more comfortable place to discuss the story and decided to take advantage of a Sports Illustrated magazine offer to write photograph captions for the annual Mint 400 desert race being held in Las Vegas from 21–23 March.
Thompson wrote that he concluded their March trip by spending some 36 hours alone in a hotel room "feverishly writing in my notebook" about his experiences.
The genesis of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is in that notebook.
What originally was a two-hundred-fifty-word photo-caption-job for Sports Illustrated grew to a novel-length feature story for Rolling Stone; Thompson said publisher Jann Wenner had "liked the first 20 or so jangled pages enough to take it seriously on its own terms and tentatively scheduled it for publication — which gave me the push I needed to keep working on it".