the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

American Desperado


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.

Wright (left) and Roberts

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.

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