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)
the best #1 hard to find anything worth listening to after this
the whole thing was great from beginning to end
the whole book was captivating
This is the memoir of an unintelligent sociopath with and unfathomably screwed up perspective on the world. If you want to subject yourself to hours listening to his narcissism and how everyone else is a 'moron' this is for you. I listened to 8 hours of this before losing the will to live.
If you're looking for a mafia thriller packed with great characters I'd try something else.
This book is a chilling and informative read (listen) that is above all wonderfully entertaining. From the fading NYC mob to the US Vice President that sent arms to terrorists, this book tells it like it is. Beautifully read! I loved it.
This book is a must read to understand Miami and the cartels' reign over it. One thing I had to laugh at is, Jon calls alot of evil no good murderers "good guys" When job calls someone a good guy, keep in mind it's not in the sense you and I would use it. Jon lived 100 lives rolled into one.
The book was decent enough, fascinating insight into the drug world and the Medellin Cartel in particular. Background on Roberts upbringing was revealing.
I love nonfiction and it took me a while to find this gem, but it definitely one of my favorites. This man lived such an outrageous life, truly unbelievable. The narration and storyline flow perfectly.
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