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)
This is one of the few books i've listened to that i'd give another go round. John roberts is a fascinating character. Sociopath, maybe. Evil, probably, however that is certainly hard to feel after getting to know the man, and get to know him you do in this open and insightful biography. Not many bios tell as much as John does, and he does so in such a mater of fact way, regardless of how frightful the scene may be.
The Godfather, however John R is some piece of work. I knew people like him then, for those who survived, they are "the old days" when you could get away with almost anything if you had ½ a brain. He is no Don corleone, Sonny, maybe…
but he ran a show, and people respected him, even if he had a thing for "those" kind of women...
the accent, most of the time, you think its John reading it himself.
Don't hate john, I've read several reviews of the book urging people not to buy it, not to support a criminal, but there's so much more here…John is a flawed human, with a conscience…a survivor, and survive he did! made millions on illegal things, yet was recognised by people close to presidents and other sorta respectable folks. Was respected by Myer Lansky. and in the end, well, after you listen to the book, and catch your breath, google him…there's more to the end of the story than in the listen.
With Lotsa Love from gaz regn
This book give a look inside the head of someone who is pretty much a sociopath, and yet it's not hard to relate to him. His ingenuity as a gangster is amazing--transporting drugs in a car on the back of a tow-truck, for instance. And if you like the book, see this guy in person in a movie called Cocaine Cowboys (available on instant netflix)
I really enjoy books of this Nature, But Jon Roberts stories BLOW even " The Ice man " away. If you make any purchase this year MAKE SURE TO GET THIS BOOK! WOW!
I first was introduced to Jon Roberts from the documentary "The Cocaine Cowboys". In the documentary he was articulate, intelligent, and insightful. In this book he was no different with the exception that, unlike the documentary, in this book he shows an evil side of him which he took great care to hide from the previous encounter.I have no issue reading/hearing stories from the underworld or the battlefield but Jon was simply so unrepentant, graphic, and I couldn't help but think: proud, of his ultra-violent past, that for me at least, it took away from any narrative he was trying to string together. Jon comes off as a deeply conflicted, yet very distributed person. I think the thing that finally put me off the most from Jon was, he seems intelligent, and aware enough of what he was doing, to know the consequences of his actions, to the people he was harming but he still chose to embrace evil. I suppose that may have been the point of the book.Listing to this book was a big downer for me, and I was left simply disgusted with Jon Roberts. Any of the allure, glamour, and flash of the 80's cocaine cowboys is simply gone from me.
Evan Wright is a great author and journalist. I will always read anything written by him. Jon Roberts is now dead, so I guess I don't have an issue here.
I felt it was an adequate performance. Roberts writing is not very good though, so at times the performance felt amateurish, but this was no fault of the narration.
It exercised any semblance of glam I had for the crime word, and despite the fact that I felt this book was a negative, Evan Wright's occasional insights and publishing skill made it at least palatable enough for me to finish.
I'm hoping Evan Wight's next work will be better. But I am sure it will be.
Yes, if they liked the gangster/true crime genre.
I like the fact the author took lots of care to tell the story accurately.
The narrator stuck his nose into the story way too much. He could have summarized his input up front. There are a lot of voices going on already which highlights one of the downsides to keeping up with an audiobook. And instead of minimizing such distractions, the editor seemed oblivious to the problem.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content