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American Desperado Audiobook

American Desperado: My Life - From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (893 )
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Performance
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  •  
    gordonagray 09-28-16
    gordonagray 09-28-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Tedious"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roz2D2 07-13-17
    Roz2D2 07-13-17
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    "Unbelievable at times but never dull"

    This was a was a very interesting story on the rise & fall of cocaine cowboy Jon Roberts. If you've seen the Cocaine Cowboys this goes into more depth. I like how it adds others perspectives that worked with Jon. Some of it seems so outlandish that it couldn't be true but the author does his research & states when he couldn't corroborate Jon's story. Great listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bobo 01-25-17
    Bobo 01-25-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Don't mess with the wrong people"

    Very rarley he does a book keep my interest where I'd rather not put it down and continue to listen when I've got other important things on my agenda
    Exciting unbelievable enjoyable

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 10-23-17
    Michael 10-23-17 Member Since 2017
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    "GREAT book!"

    Jon Roberts is a straight G... REAL O.G! Great book definitely worth the time and read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ezche 10-21-17
    Ezche 10-21-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Real life Scarface for long commutes"

    If you've ever wanted to infuse your consciousness with that of a nearly allegorical Miami Vice mobster during a car ride, this would be the audiobook to purchase.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    S. Laporte mid coast maine 10-07-17
    S. Laporte mid coast maine 10-07-17 Member Since 2017
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    "American desperado"

    Great stories but some seem like complete fabrication.That aside ..... This guy if you believe half of what he says lived a pretty crazy life. I like how they used several male,female narrators.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 09-24-17
    Andrew 09-24-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Dark and sickening without a purpose"

    I got halfway through the book and had to return it because it is just a stream of endless moral absence. It is mostly a collection of short stories where in each story Jon Roberts commits crimes and is never really held accountable. I am interested in dark fiction and non-fiction alike but this is book illustrates an evil man's life. There are no likeable characters, no heroes, and seemingly no hope. There might be more to the story that I'll never know. However, the hours I put in to get through half the book were sickening and not worth my time, let alone my money.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sean 09-15-17
    sean 09-15-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Outstanding "

    Amazing book very entertaining. Narration was excellent. Five stars in every respect, buy it you will love it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greeny 09-14-17
    Greeny 09-14-17 Member Since 2017
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    "I think it's partly fabricated but facinating"

    Like other big-time criminals, Roberts is an excellent storyteller. Probably I make some bad choices such as listening to this book rather than an academic one. It's so compelling that I binged and binged.

    In my opinion, the story Roberts tells of exploits in Vietnam have some technical errors that reveal his methods of putting spin and con games into everything. He's an artist of sorts. And he's a con man at heart, I believe.

    At some point while listening, I felt in awe of Roberts. The narrator was that good and the material too. Roberts was known to have this effect on people. I felt it. It's too bad he got directed into crime at a young age; the world was his oyster.

    I didn't find the accounts of brutality to be too graphic, thankfully. I doubt most, not all, of that content Roberts espoused. Like many hardcore violent offenders, he hypes that side of himself to win intimidation value and some attention.

    This book is an example of why I enjoy biographies even though it's impossible to fully separate fact from fiction. Some of the most interesting biographies arise from the subject's long term efforts to project an image to the world. Roberts wanted others to believe he was evil at his core and that this gave him extraordinary power.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    CamTX Houston, TX United States 09-14-17
    CamTX Houston, TX United States 09-14-17 Member Since 2017
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    "great book"

    What a page turner. It filled in a lot of cracks after seeing "cocaine cowboys."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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