Of particular focus is the manic maneuvering of the George McGovern campaign during the Miami convention as they sought to ensure the nomination despite attempts by the Hubert Humphrey campaign and other candidates to block McGovern. Thompson began his coverage of the campaign in December, 1971, just as the primaries were beginning, from a rented apartment in Washington, DC (a situation he compared to "living in an armed camp, a condition of constant fear"). Over the next 12 months, in voluminous detail, he covered every aspect of the campaign, from the smallest rally to the raucous conventions.
Because of the freewheeling nature of the campaign, a 1st-generation fax machine was procured at great expense by the magazine for Thompson. Dubbing it "the mojo wire", he used it to extend the writing process precariously close to printing deadlines, often haphazardly sending in notes mere hours before the magazine went to press. Fellow writers and editors would have to assemble the finished product with him over the phone. Thompson employed a number of unique literary styles, including vulgarity and hyperbole. Despite his unconventional style, the book is considered a hallmark of campaign journalism and helped launch his role as a popular political observer.
The Democratic Party formed around Andrew Jackson in 1828 as the party representing the frontier and the common man. George McGovern, a senator from South Dakota, was nominated by the Democrats in 1972 as a peace candidate, but he lost heavily in November to Richard Nixon. Hubert Humphrey was a liberal Democrat who served in the United States Senate from Minnesota until being elected vice-president in 1964.