Listen free for 30 days

Pick 1 audiobook a month from our unmatched collection.
Listen all you want to thousands of included audiobooks, Originals, and podcasts.
Access exclusive sales and deals.
Premium Plus auto-renews for $14.95/mo + applicable taxes after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
American Desperado cover art

American Desperado

Written by: Jon Roberts,Evan Wright
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall,Erik Davies,Mark Deakins,Kimberly Farr,Kirby Heyborne,Thomas Vincent Kelly,Steve Kramer,Meredith Scott Lynn,Johnathan McClain,Christina Rooney
Try for $0.00

$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy Now for $46.31

Buy Now for $46.31

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Tax where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

In 2008 veteran journalist Evan Wright, acclaimed for his New York Times best-selling book Generation Kill and co-writer of the Emmy-winning HBO series it spawned, began a series of conversations with super-criminal Jon Roberts, star of the fabulously successful documentary Cocaine Cowboys. Those conversations would last three years, during which time Wright came to realize that Roberts was much more than the de-facto “transportation chief” of the Medellin Cartel during the 1980s, much more than a facilitator of a national drug epidemic. As Wright’s tape recorder whirred and Roberts unburdened himself of hundreds of jaw-dropping tales, it became clear that perhaps no one in history had broken so many laws with such willful abandon.

Roberts, in fact, seemed to be a prodigy of criminality – but one with a remarkable self-awareness and a fierce desire to protect his son from following the same path.

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. Jon Roberts may be the only criminal who changed the course of American history.

©2011 Evan Wright (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“The Moby Dick of mob memoirs… here is everything you've wanted to know - and much better, here is the way everything felt. Evan Wright puts you so deep inside a career in organized crime that midway through you'll begin expecting a knock on your door and a call from your lawyer.” (David Lipsky, author of the national best seller Absolutely American)
"Delivers all the guilty pleasures one expects from a gangster's memoir, but Wright's superb prose offers something more: a meditation on good and evil during the glittering decay of late 20th century civilization… One of the best books of the year.” (James L. Swanson, Edgar Award winning author of the New York Times best sellers Manhunt and Bloody Crimes)
American Desperado is not only stranger but so much better than fiction…Captivating, addictive, and head-spinning, this one-of-a-kind book earns its place on the top shelf of true crime accounts.” (Chuck Hogan, New York Times bestselling author of Prince of Thieves, basis of the Academy Award-nominated The Town)

What listeners say about American Desperado

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    52
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    11
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Crazy story

Great book, normally it takes me a month to finish a book. This one took me 2 days.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow! What an incredible story!

Absolutely riveting. I could not stop listening. Dark but also had me laughing out loud frequently. An unbelievable story and yet, so very believable.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Don’t waste your time

0 flow to this book. Just plain bad. Was very excited to read this but was disappointed in the flow or lack of. Mainly random thug stories.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

my ego is big

well this was a book about a big ego and who knows how much truth? The guy runs down people that supposedly helped him calling them "red necks" they have to have inserts telling us this is true or we could not verify this Information? so why should we believe any of what he says?

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

couldn't put it down. great book!

Smugglers,Mob,Sex,drugs, great book. Think I will listen to it again. Narration was clear and spot on.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unbelievable

An incredible story that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire way though. Never ending excitement the whole way through. Highly recommend, amazing narration

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • dav
  • 2019-02-25

thought I knew most of this story before I started

turns out I only really knew maybe 25%..
.. like or hate J.R .. what a wild ride..

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Felt like I was there...

For weeks I have been listening to this book off and on while working... on an airplane... and while falling asleep.

it was enthralling to say the least. it puts into perspective the simple... yet complicated world we live in.

while some struggle to make ends meat through complacency... others strive through tenacity and creativity. whether good or bad

and in the end... we all have a heart... even if it doesn't seem like it.

sure hope they make a movie!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!