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

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

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Overview

In 2008 veteran journalist Evan Wright, acclaimed for his New York Times bestselling 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. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307704641
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/01/2011
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 13
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

JON ROBERTS is the man considered most responsible for bringing cocaine into the United States during the era in which the Medellin Cartel flourished.  He is a central figure in the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which has been watched by millions.  EVAN WRIGHT is considered one of the best nonfiction writers in America.  A two-time National Magazine Award Winner and recipient of the Columbia University School of Journalism and Harvard University Niemen Foundation Lukas Prize, he is a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair and author of the bestseller Generation Kill as well as Hella Nation.

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American Desperado 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down, after I began. One long amazing adventure that you may think couldn't be true. The author extensively footnotes each chapter, often verifying Roberts' story. If you're looking for an exciting, easy to read book, this is it. You will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I sat fown and read this book in one sitting The best true crime book I've ever read
Hagelstein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
American Desperado is an extremely well written account of the life of a major cocaine importer. Evan Wright tells Jon Roberts story from his days as a minor organized crime figure in New York to becoming a hardened killer in Vietnam and finally a smuggler known to authorities for years only as ¿the bearded gringo.¿Roberts is clear about his brutality and seldom shows remorse. Unintended humor sometimes creeps into his recollections. About one notorious Colombian smuggler: ¿Carlos Lehder hero-worshipped Hitler. He talked about this openly. I don¿t care who you are, if you talk about how you want to make a Nazi state in South America and become the new Hitler, people will lose confidence in you.¿ Describing another acquaintance: ¿Joe was a professional killer. He was also a dog breeder and a really good guy.¿ In his world you could be both a killer and good.Roberts fascinating story fills in a lot about how the Colombian cartels moved massive amounts of cocaine into the U.S. in the 1980s and beyond.
scuzzy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're squeamish with gory details, against the glorifying of crime, and don't like the odd swear word, this book is not you.However, if like me you like it told with the subtlety of an elephant on heat, then this is one of the most hellish books you will ever read. While crime is no really my genre, I don't mind reading the odd book with Mafia/drug/gangland type themes to it, but even I have to admit. I had to pause at times to collect myself, and even put the book down and read some Asterix or watch some TV comedy just to try to wipe the last picture from my mind.Part history lesson, part auto/biography, writer Evan Wright chronicles maybe the most in-depth recording of the cocaine trade in the US circa the 70s and 80s...why? Because the subject/co-author is none other than Jon Roberts, the most wanted man in the US at the time as the American chapter of the Medellin Cartel.For those too young, or those who believe life doesn't exist past their end of their work desk, the Medellin Cartel was the Columbian crowd responsible for approximately 90% of all cocaine trade in the US, if not the world. And while the name still does not ring a bell, maybe those such as Pablo Escobar and General Noriega (not to mention the Ochoa Family) will do.What is fascinating about the book is that at times you cannot help yourself but cheer on the bad guys as they come up with more and more devious and cunning ways to import the white powder, and the sheer figures, both in quantity moved, and the money made and spent will shock you.And while it comes across as all fun and games with a slight romantic edge to it, there is the darker side of the book.Roberts recalls his life as the son of a Mafia wiseguy which makes it easier to understand his road to 'evil', but probably more shocking is his time in Vietnam where as a semi-special ops soldier carried out killings and torture that will make Friday the 13th and such seem like a sideshow attraction. From there his struggle to find any joy in 9 to 5 labour and his shift into the Mafia, first in New York, and then in Miami when he was asked by the Family to 'vamoose'. Makes "Goodfellas" and "Scarface" seem like a Looney Tunes cartoon.I didn't think I would find a similar themed book as good as "Mr Nice", and while both were apparent geniuses at their trade, the two were worlds apart in their methodology. But both name drop like you wouldn't believe...heck, there must be some famous people out there who cannot help but worry every time a book comes out like this.I could recite so much of this book back to you and it still would not prepare you for the honest and sometimes fantastical storylines (sometimes you shake your head because you cannot believe it to be true), but read it...Read it now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding & outrageous story. Intriging and captivating. Hard to believe some of the stories really happened but who could make up such things! Wright has a lot of bravery to write this book.
JEdoubleS More than 1 year ago
Found this book to be very interesting. It is hard to believe that Roberts lived this insane existence. Kept me entertained til the end!
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