The true story of super-criminal Jon Roberts, star of the documentary Cocaine Cowboys.
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.
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2011: From New York City gangster to running guns for the CIA and smuggling literally tons of cocaine and cash for the Medellín Cartel at the height of America’s “war on drugs”--Jon Roberts has done it all. American Desperado is the uncensored, jaw-dropping account of Roberts’s life of criminal enterprise, decadent excess, murder and mayhem, that has all the trappings of a best-selling crime novel. Yet, co-author Evan Wright’s meticulously researched footnotes serve as an authentic reminder that this is no work of fiction. Roberts’s adherence to his father’s philosophy that evil is stronger than good, and his ease with violence, are coupled with an indelible charm, candor, and loyalty, that together paint a powerful portrait of a quintessential Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.--Seira Wilson
Featured Photographs of Jon Roberts
| Before Jon was a Cocaine Cowboy, Jon's mother took this photo (1956) when he was a boy obsessed with cowboys. Jon later changed his name to Jon Pernell Roberts after Pernell Roberts, star of Bonanza. || Jon (third from left) at a 1973 wedding in New York. It was his last wiseguy party before he fled to Miami. |
| Jon's long-time girlfriend Toni Moon was the poster girl for the Ryan O’Neal movie So Fine. Here, Jon and Toni reenacted the poster's photo with Jon in place of O'Neil. ||Jon's mugshot taken after his arrest in the 1986 cocaine bust that unravelled his empire.|
JON ROBERTS is 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 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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