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American Desperado

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

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

Customer Reviews

Great book

This is a great book

Great story of the most innovative smuggling operation

This is a great story of the Medellin Cartel from the American side. It is the story of Cocaine Cowboys from Miami and details the American side of the largest smuggling operation in history. It contains the violence you would expect. They cover the cat and mouse game with government and all of the creative ways they managed to stay one step ahead of the government for years. Some people may be surprised by the smugglers cooperation with the government to smuggle arms to Nicuragua, but this has been acknowledged by the government in the Iran Contra scandle. The author does a good job in his attempt to corroborate a story that by its criminal nature is difficult to do. The story is not romanticized or sugar coated, it is an honest look at a career criminal sociopath. Having read the book "The Kings of Cocaine" book that detailed the rise of the Medellin Cartel years ago, this book brought the story full circle by telling the American side of the story. I highly recommend this book.


I couldn't put this down. Anyone interested in crime or who loved Cocaine Cowboys as much as I did must read this. This guy has lived a truly amazing life and the fact that he is alive to tell it is mind blowing. I didn't want the book to ever end.

American Desperado
View in iTunes
  • $4.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Nov 01, 2011
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 560 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings

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