Dear Dr. Thompson: “Felony Murder, Hunter S. Thompson, and the Last Gonzo Campaign”

Hunter S. Thompson was one of the 20th century’s greatest literary social critics, and one of the most anti-authoritarian. In the tradition of Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken, Thompson never flinched at exposing the hypocrisies and contradictions of American life and ideology, and his contempt for authority permeated not just his writing but his life as well.

Thompson killed himself in 2005, shortly before his remains were shot out of a giant cannon in Aspen, Colorado. Yet, right up to the end, Thompson made himself a gadfly and a nuisance and an enemy of the agents of the state who have so much power over the lives of the powerless.

In Dear Dr. Thompson, writer Matthew Moseley has provided an entertaining first person account of Hunter S. Thompson and his “Last Gonzo Campaign.” Through the book, which is both a true crime account and a study of Thompson the man, Moseley details Thompson’s involvement in the Lisl Auman case in which, Auman, then barely out of her teens, was kidnapped by a drug addled gangbanger who murdered a police officer. Later, prosecutors claimed Auman had assisted the murderer and, thanks to media hysteria and prosecutorial recklessness in the name of “sending a message” to cop killers, Auman was sentenced to life in prison without parole under the felony murder law in Colorado.

Then one day, while serving her life sentence in a Colorado prison, Auman wrote a letter to Hunter S. Thompson a few hours away in Aspen. Thompson’s assistant Deborah Fuller read the letter aloud to Thompson. The letter spawned the “Free Lisl!” campaign which would turn out to be Thompson’s last great campaign against injustice.

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