Cover image for On the bus : the complete guide to the legendary trip of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and the birth of the counterculture
On the bus : the complete guide to the legendary trip of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and the birth of the counterculture
Perry, Paul, 1950-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thunder's Mouth Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
xxvii, 195 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3561.E667 Z78 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The story of the 1964 bus trip that inspired a generation and was immortalized by Tom Wolfe's The electric kool-aid acid tes t, as told by those who were "on the bus," as well as Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson, Robert Stone, Timothy Leary and others. With recreations of the trip by Ken Babbs, 120 photos, and forewords by Hunter S. Thompson and Jerry Garcia. Published by Thunder's Mouth Press, 54 Greene Street, Suite 4S, New York, NY 10013. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Author Notes

Paul Perry attended Arizona State University and received a fellowship from the Freedom Forum Foundation at Columbia University in 1988. He taught magazine writing at the University of Oregon and was Executive Editor at American Health magazine. He is the co-author with Melvin Morse of Closer to the Light, Transformed by the Light, and Where God Lives, which won the 2002 Aleph Award for the best spiritual book published that year in France. His work has appeared in numerous publications including National Geographic Adventure, Ladies Home Journal, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and Reader's Digest.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"What a long, strange trip it's . . ." No, but then again, yes. Reminiscences continue 20-something years after the birth of the psychedelic movement. Using mainly recollections of participants, this book chronicles the 1964 journey of Ken (Cuckoo's Nest) Kesey and the Merry Pranksters on their fantastic, painted bus named Further and the subsequent be-ins--acid tests--held by members of the LSD scene. This is less a celebration than a reflection that presents the immediacy of purpose of the drug activities without avoiding the occasional shortsightedness, immaturity, and desperation of those who went along. Commentators include Hunter S. Thompson, Jerry Garcia, Timothy Leary, and Allen Ginsburg. This is a more straightforward account than Kesey's recent playscript, The Further Inquiry [BKL Ag 90]. Although at times scattered and repetitious, it is a great browsing volume and a well-rounded view of a short--but key--period of the 1960s. Forewords by Thompson and Garcia and a section focused on the late driver, Neal Cassady. No index. ~--Angus Trimnell

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the effort to offer a ``complete guide'' to the legendary psychedelic bus trip taken by Kesey and 13 other ``pranksters'' in 1964, this book lacks only a bound-in tab of LSD-25 to make it the real thing. Candid and whacky photos taken during the trip convey a generation's abandonment to drug-induced ecstasy in a way that words cannot--although words there are aplenty here. Interviews with participants and witnesses, a hybrid essay/fantasy by prankster Babbs, excerpts from Tom Wolfe 's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test attempt to capture the unruly energies of a motley but winning crew. Of most interest to serious fans of those days are the interviews by Perry (former editor of Running magazine), in which, for example, the literary origins of Kesey's band in Palo Alto--Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, Gordon Lish, Wallace Stegner at nearby Stanford--are restored to the myth. (Stone's refusal to aggrandize the ``birth of counterculture''--``Still, we were rather pleased with ourselves. . . . We kept our world small''--is a nice counterbalance to the broader claims made elsewhere.) Perry's careful reconstruction of the nine-city trip has its wonders, too, such as the meeting with a surly, intoxicated Jack Kerouac who, upon seeing a ``throne'' prepared for him by the Pranksters with an American flag draped over it, ``mute and quiet . . . took the flag and folded it up neatly and put it over the side.'' (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

This book, which nominally commemorates the 25th anniversary of Ken Kesey's "electric kool-aid acid tests" and the celebrated 1964 cross-country trip of Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters in their psychedelic bus, provides little that is new. Aside from the numerous photographs of the bus trip participants and various other counterculture figures of the 1960s, virtually everything here was presented first in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) and has been frequently reiterated in various popular forums. Although it will prove of nostalgic interest to readers interested in the popular culture of the 1960s, or fans of the Grateful Dead or Neal Cassady, this is really just another coffee-table book riding on the broad back of Ken Kesey's lingering reputation as a cult hero. Most readers would do better to return to Wolfe's book, or to Kesey's fine novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sometimes a Great Notion (CH, Oct'64) for more substantial fare. Recommended only for libraries maintaining complete Kesey collections or extensive holdings in popular culture. -B. H. Leeds, Central Connecticut State University