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About the book
  • Published: 3 December 2018
  • ISBN: 9780091949419
  • Imprint: Ebury Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $19.99

American Desperado

My life as a Cocaine Cowboy




A brutal and gripping autobiography by the original Cocaine Cowboy and real-life Scarface, the man responsible for flooding 1980s US with cocaine, co-written by Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill

‘The best crime book since Wiseguy’ – Rich Cohen

A real-life Scarface, Jon was born into the Gambino Mafia family and witnessed his first murder aged seven. He joined a US Army assassination squad in Vietnam to escape a teen criminal charge, then fled New York to reinvent himself in Miami as the number one supplier of cocaine in the US. With a crazed bodyguard always at his side, and a fortress protected by mortars, tear-gas cannons, and a gold-fanged attack dog, Roberts was brutally effective at what he did.

With a cast that includes everyone from Jimi Hendrix and OJ Simpson to the CIA and General Noriega, American Desperado is a hedonistic, adrenaline-soaked joyride through the world of Escobar and the cartels, told by one of most successful criminals of all time.

  • Pub date: 3 December 2018
  • ISBN: 9780091949419
  • Imprint: Ebury Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 560
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Authors

Jon Roberts

JON ROBERTS was, prior to his incarceration, among the most successful drug smugglers in American history, at one point overseeing an operation that accounted for more than half of the cocaine entering the US. He collaborated with some of the most notorious criminals of his era, including Pablo Escobar and General Noriega, was a key player in the Iran-Contra affair, and starred in the hit documentary Cocaine Cowboys. Jon died in 2011.

Evan Wright

EVAN WRIGHT is the author of Generation Kill, one of the most celebrated books on the Iraq War and recently adapted by David Simon into a 7-hour HBO miniseries. He is a recipient of the National Magazine Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Award, a PEN/Faulkner Award and a Lukas Book Prize. He is also a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.


Praise for American Desperado

“An American criminal mastermind”

Ed Caesar, Sunday Times

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

Kirkus Reviews

“A tour de force. The best crime book since Wiseguy. Puts you in the middle of a world where it's wonderful to be a tourist, terrible to be a resident. I am filled with nothing but admiration and envy for Evan Wright”

Rich Cohen, author of THE FISH THAT ATE THE WHALE

“Imagine if Mister Kurtz from Heart of Darkness sat down with Dick Cavett for a little chat about the nature of good and evil, empathy, fatherhood, violence, drugs, power, self-knowledge, women, family, the hero versus the anti-hero, freedom, imprisonment...Try as you might, you can't really put this book down”

Doug Stanton, author of HORSE SOLDIERS and IN HARM’S WAY

“Seldom have I read an account of criminal enterprise that took me so deeply into the blackness of a man’s soul – a scary read, pounding and relentless and irresistible”

Bruce Porter, author of BLOW

“American Desperado is the first great crime book of the 21st Century. Dangerous, darkly hilarious, hair-raising, and terrifically written, Wright's prose spills over with the kind of insane, brilliantly rendered detail and dialogue that make you want to call people at four in the morning and read out loud”

Jerry Stahl, bestselling author of PERMANENT MIDNIGHT


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