Tom Wolfe was a major part of what came to be called "The New Journalism" in the early 1960s. His prose was to conventional reporter-prose as Impressionist art was to classical art of its time, and he made anything he wrote about interesting and incandescent, especially to an undergraduate student majoring in American Literature. Later on in the 1960s, Hunter S. Thompson came along with his drug and alcohol infused essays on politics, race, rock and roll, and an America coming apart at the seams. Rolling Stone magazine was must-reading every two weeks for a large number of disaffected young citizens hungry to see what Thompson or Wolfe or one of the other young Rolling Stone staff writers would have to say about the cataclysmic events that seemed to roll through every week in that fever dream time at the end of the 1960s.
Here's an excerpt from Tom Wolfe's "Las Vegas" from Esquire Magazine in 1964, which pretty much captures him at his best:
Bugsy [Siegel] pulled into Las Vegas in 1945 with several million dollars that, after his assassination, was traced back in the general direction of gangster-financiers. Siegel put up a hotel-casino such as Las Vegas had never seen and called it the Flamingo—all Miami Modern, and the hell with piano players with garters and whatever that was all about. Everybody drove out Route 91 just to gape. Such shapes! Boomerang Modern supports, Palette Curvilinear bars, Hot Shoppe Cantilever roofs and a scalloped swimming pool. Such colors! All the new electrochemical pastels of the Florida littoral: tangerine, broiling magenta, livid pink, incarnadine, fuchsia demure, Congo ruby, methyl green, viridine, aquamarine, phenosafranine, incandescent orange, scarlet-fever purple, cyanic blue, tessellated bronze, hospital-fruit-basket orange. And such signs! Two cylinders rose at either end of the Flamingo—eight stories high and covered from top to bottom with neon rings in the shape of bubbles that fizzed all eight stories up into the desert sky all night long like an illuminated whisky-soda tumbler filled to the brim with pink champagne.
Tom Wolfe, Esquire Magazine February 1964