American Desperado is possibly the most jaw-dropping, event-filled, adrenaline-soaked criminal autobiography ever written. Like a real-life Scarface Jon was born into the upper levels of the Gambino crime family and witnessed his first murder at age seven. He became a one-man juvenile crime wave before joining an assassination squad in Vietnam. He returned to New York at age 20 to become one of the city's top nightclub promoters, then journeyed to Miami where he became the de facto transportation chief of the Medellin Cartel, and along with a tech-wizard partner, created some of the most sophisticated smuggling technologies ever. With a hulking 6'6" bodyguard always at his side, and a rural fortress protected by mortars, tear-gas cannons, and a gold-fanged attack dog, Roberts was brutally effective at what he did. To law enforcement, he was known as the "Bearded Gringo," a spectre they could never touch. To United States senators and CIA officials, he was "the guy who can get things done". He eventually formed a clandestine alliance with the US government and in the end found personal late-life redemption.
©2011 Jon Roberts and Evan Wright (P)2011 Random House AudioGo LTD
I was just in amazement at how it all worked
Incredible story, Incredible life. really good listen, I loved it. this story is no holds bar account of a serious bad boy!!
Was a great story which I thoroughly enjoyed listening to.
Was broadly three parts, growing up the son of someone high up in the Mafia, being a soldier in Vietnam and finally his life as a smuggler.
All were told from a different angle which made the story more interesting, for example the war veteran was not from the "look at me I'm such a macho hero", but actually told of how the U.S. Government depended on people like him who would do "dark" things to the enemy, even though as he puts it they went too far on a number of occasions.
One of only two books I've ever returned.
True story my @rse!
Anyone listening to the first 5 minutes (which is all I got through) would clearly see this is poorly dramatised rubbish.
"I was captivated after the first line!"
I would definitely recommend this audiobook to a friend. It was incredibly fast paced and extremely interesting. Jon Roberts was also very fun and this comes out quite a lot throughout the book.
When Jon was serving as a soldier in Vietnam.
They help make the book more three dimensional. I've never listened to an audiobook with so many narrators before and it really worked well. It helped define the different characters when at points, it would have been quite easy to get them mixed up. It also made it seem like each different character was expressing their own view point on the story.
If you're looking for your next 'fix', this is definitely it. I was thoroughly gutted when it finished.
"One Bad Ass Dude"
Definitely as it give you a chance to enjoy the story in the car when driving. This could be problematic with the print version.
The most memorable part is when he goes to south america and sees the mountain of cash behind the secret wall.
John Riccobono, obviously!
If you did coke in the 80s... It was probably Johns
Yes, fantastic story! Shows the continued corruption of the american government from foreign to domestic wars, political party funding, law enforcement, contradicting US justice and Drugs.
Vietnam tour........ really? Airborne advanced recon death squads? I could imagine the SOC or Green berets doing it, but not joe blogs recon infantry. Hard to believe without the press who combed the countryside for stories like this during the campaign! I'm sure the VC would of loved to take a reporter to a mutilated VC or civilian body.
No it is long but interesting all the way through! `
I have a feeling of an inflated opinion of himself or more of his emotions, all the way through the book..... but with the other opinions of friends and family throughout, put a sometimes contradicting view of events into to the memory's of emotions and events. Which shows to never show weakness when dealing with cartels and hitmen, but also playing the crowd!
"Excellent book and we'll read"
This book does no gloss up crime as some good old criminal who's misunderstood and really a good bloke at heart. A true life and sometimes shocking story of what it must be like being a real gangster not a movie gangster
Jons character and honesty
"An enjoyable if at times challenging listen"
The subject matter can be challenging but that is clear from the description - the subject of the story did not become what we has through being a nice person and doing nice things.I found the story compelling but it is clear that the author is not totally convinced by all of the claims made which in some ways makes the story more interesting. Even if only half of it is true I think it gives an interesting insight into what was going on behind the scenes in 1970's New York and Miami.
"By far the best audiobook adventure I ever had..."
Did you ever wince at Joe Pesci in Goodfellas? Hide behind your hands at James Caan getting shot to pieces in the Godfather? Start wearing a pastel t-shirt and white suit in the 80's? Well this guy really lived that life. Jon Roberts paints his story both brutally and frankly. At times I found myself saying "he really is one evil SOB!" Thankfully for most of us, we won't ever have to experience any of the things Jon did. But what a life, what a story. By the end of it I found myself thinking, I'm glad he managed to get this story down before he died, because it really is quite extraordinary.
"The True Mafia Story"
An absolutely brilliant book about a mafia associated sociopath. Even if you have doubts about some of the events the biographer (Evan Wright) has done his research and provides witness testimony where possible. So, if you don't believe the story it is still a great read.
"Meet Jon. You'll like him."
I was tentative about buying this audiobook as I wasn't sure it was a story I would warm to, but after two hours or so I was engrossed. It certainly helps that the narrators are perfect for the roles they play. You soon learn who is who and it gets to the point where you can't wait for Jon to be back on giving his insight into the era. His life is laid bare. There is no real apology for who he was or what he did, but the reasons his life was steered down that path all become apparent. There are some dark and brutal truths that horrify but also many beautiful, endearing moments too and a few where i couldn't stop laughing. All the stories are researched for truth by the co-writer where possible so it isn't merely the truth according to Jon. I listened to all 25 hours in the space of a month driving to and from work each day and I was devastated when I got to the end. I look forward to listening again in a year or so - definitely the sign of a great audiobook.
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