In 2008 veteran journalist Evan Wright, acclaimed for his New York Times best-selling book Generation Kill and co-writer of the Emmy-winning HBO series it spawned, began a series of conversations with super-criminal Jon Roberts, star of the fabulously successful documentary Cocaine Cowboys. Those conversations would last three years, during which time Wright came to realize that Roberts was much more than the de-facto “transportation chief” of the Medellin Cartel during the 1980s, much more than a facilitator of a national drug epidemic. As Wright’s tape recorder whirred and Roberts unburdened himself of hundreds of jaw-dropping tales, it became clear that perhaps no one in history had broken so many laws with such willful abandon.
Roberts, in fact, seemed to be a prodigy of criminality – but one with a remarkable self-awareness and a fierce desire to protect his son from following the same path.
American Desperado is Roberts’ no-holds-barred account of being born into Mafia royalty, witnessing his first murder at the age of seven, becoming a hunter-assassin in Vietnam, returning to New York to become -- at age 22 -- one of the city’s leading nightclub impresarios, then journeying to Miami where in a few short years he would rise to become the Medellin Cartel’s most effective smuggler.
But that’s just half the tale.
The roster of Roberts’ friends and acquaintances reads like a Who’s Who of the latter half of the 20th century and includes everyone from Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, and O.J. Simpson to Carlo Gambino, Meyer Lansky, and Manuel Noriega.
Nothing if not colorful, Roberts surrounded himself with beautiful women, drove his souped-up street car at a top speed of 180 miles per hour, shared his bed with a 200-pound cougar, and employed a 6”6” professional wrestler called “The Thing” as his bodyguard. Ultimately, Roberts became so powerful that he attracted the attention of the Republican Party’s leadership, was wooed by them, and even was co-opted by the CIA for which he carried out its secret agenda.
Scrupulously documented and relentlessly propulsive, this collaboration between a bloodhound journalist and one of the most audacious criminals ever is like no other crime book you’ve ever read. Jon Roberts may be the only criminal who changed the course of American history.
©2011 Evan Wright (P)2011 Random House Audio
“The Moby Dick of mob memoirs… here is everything you've wanted to know - and much better, here is the way everything felt. Evan Wright puts you so deep inside a career in organized crime that midway through you'll begin expecting a knock on your door and a call from your lawyer.” (David Lipsky, author of the national best seller Absolutely American)
"Delivers all the guilty pleasures one expects from a gangster's memoir, but Wright's superb prose offers something more: a meditation on good and evil during the glittering decay of late 20th century civilization… One of the best books of the year.” (James L. Swanson, Edgar Award winning author of the New York Times best sellers Manhunt and Bloody Crimes)
“American Desperado is not only stranger but so much better than fiction…Captivating, addictive, and head-spinning, this one-of-a-kind book earns its place on the top shelf of true crime accounts.” (Chuck Hogan, New York Times bestselling author of Prince of Thieves, basis of the Academy Award-nominated The Town)
SO many of the stories in this book are hard to believe. The author realizes this & goes to extra lengths to verify these tales. Skinning humans alive....really? What is as troubling as the evil deeds he has done is the glorification of this man - rap musicians and even an announcer at the Miami Heat game hold him in high regard. What a sad culture we live in. the simple and approved nature of man is Illustrated well in this book. Evil is not Stronger than good it may win the battle but ultimately will lose the war.
This book is nothing but an endless litany of sociopathic cruelty. One ugly, gruesome anecdote of absolute depravity after another ... and another ... and another.
After the first 10 or 15 descriptive stories of skinning people alive, breaking bones, knee-capping, cutting off appendages, et. al., you've heard all you need to hear about killing and hurting people, and know all you need to know about Jon Roberts. After the next 30 or 40 such stories, you don't become numb or inured to them, just increasingly sick and tired of them ... more disgusted, more repulsed, more bored by the whole thing.
Though few and far between, every so often there's a brief passage about Pablo Escobar or the logistics of smuggling which feels like a breath of fresh air. But, a few minutes later, it's back to beatings and brain matter, stabbings and entrails ... all of it delivered with a shrug ... like, "eh, whaddaya gonna do?"
Enough already! Tedium, thy name is Jon Roberts ...
I loved how the entire book felt like I was watching a movie. Having several different voices for the 1st person accounts, i.e Jon's sister Judy, Mickey Monday, etc., gave the book a sense of realism. For this reason, I am so glad I listened to the book, rather than read. Wish I could find more like this.
John Riccobono, of course.
ALL OF IT!!!!
Get it already. You will not regret it
After watching cocaine cowboys, I knew I had to read this book. and it does not disappoint, Jon is very honest about himself and knows who and what he is, he doesn't try to paint a picture in hindsight to make himself look like a saint and pass blame on others. I highly recommend watching cocaine cowboys either before or after as it is a great companion.
I enjoy a good story . I usually listen to a book every month . I love anything by Ken Follett
I loved this book and the way it was read. Probably the best produced audio book on the audible.com Web site. The story of cocaine cowboys is reviting.
It is overlong and has many redundant stories.
No, but this was a terrific production. The amount of voice actors, the quality of the reading, and the way it was put together felt cinematic, if that makes sense.
I now deal drugs and kill for status.
I am man who likes to learn either by reading or listening. There are so many good books it is hard to pick just one. I love this site!
this book was a page turner from start to finish. I really had a great time reading it. I recommend this book to anyone.
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