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American Desperado: My Life--From Mafia…
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American Desperado: My Life--From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to… (edition 2012)

by Jon Roberts, Evan Wright

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583204,058 (4.08)None
Member:pbirch01
Title:American Desperado: My Life--From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset
Authors:Jon Roberts
Other authors:Evan Wright
Info:Broadway (2012), Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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

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This book took a while for me to start enjoying. Some of the brutality in the early part of the book really put me off. But over time I got used to it and found myself really enjoying the rest of the story. The co-author does a great job of focusing on the story while adding in thoughts and observations he had while writing the book. Roberts is a great story teller with a good narrative even if he does frequently use the term "bro".

Don't be put off by the size, I tore through this in a few days and is worth the investment. ( )
  pbirch01 | Jan 2, 2013 |
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. ( )
  scuzzy | Feb 1, 2012 |
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. ( )
  Hagelstein | Dec 4, 2011 |
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Jon Robertsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wright, EvanAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Zucca, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Aril 2008 Miami

Evan Wright[E.W.]: During a break in the Heat versus Pistons game at Miami's American Airlines Arena, an announcer informs the crowd that a "very special celebrity" is in the house. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have Jon Roberts, Miami's original cocaine cowboy, with us tonight."
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A mafia insider and former head smuggler for the Medellin cartel describes his violent relationships with criminal powers, his alliance with the U.S. government, and his role in reshaping the nation's war on drugs.

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