AMERICAN DESPERADO by Jon Roberts

AMERICAN DESPERADO

My Life--from Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset

KIRKUS REVIEW

A spellbinding narrative of drugs, death and debauchery as told by one of America's most notorious criminals.

Cocaine trafficker Roberts and Vanity Fair contributor Wright (Hella Nation: Looking for Happy Meals in Kandahar, Rocking the Side Pipe, Wingnut's War Against the GAP, and Other Adventures with the Totally Lost Tribes of America, 2009, etc.) team up to recount Roberts' unflinchingly brutal coming-of-age amid the crime-soaked underworld of New York City and beyond. Yet to call Roberts just a cocaine trafficker hardly does the man justice. He was a hustler on every front—from his humble beginnings ripping off drug deals to his ascent to the highest level of drug kingpins. Told primarily through Roberts' firsthand account (as well as the occasional insertion by Wright and Roberts' associates), the book reads like a how-to guide for criminals: "My father was careful not to hit people in the face who owed him money…you might kill him, and then you won't collect your money.” Equally disconcerting are Roberts' tips on disposing of a body, noting that the trick is to separate the guts from the rest when dumping a corpse into the ocean: “The reason bodies float is because the juices inside the guts make gases.” After being charged with kidnapping early in his criminal career, Roberts joined the army and served in Vietnam in an effort to avoid prison time. In the jungles of Southeast Asia, Roberts' insatiable bloodlust began to flourish; he describes one instance in which a VC soldier was skinned alive, noting simply, "Our amusement was finding new ways to make the bad ones suffer.” The author recounts his brutal crimes against man and morality in an off-handed manner, confirming Roberts' assertion, "I don't have a conscience"—an assessment with which readers will likely to agree.

A savage, unrelenting tale.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-45042-5
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2011




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