Friday, March 6, 2009

The Accountant's Story

The Accountant's Story, by Roberto Escobar (with David Fisher)
$17.81 in the Hansisgreat Gift Shop
ISBN: 9780446178921
This is the true story of Pablo Escobar, founder of the Medellin drug cartel, as told by his brother, Roberto.
Colombia has a long history of violence and corruption. The Escobar boys were born during a period of civil war, known in the country as La Violencia, during which peasant guerillas murdered as many as 300,000 people. At the beginning of our story, Roberto recalls how he and Pablo hid under their bed from soldiers who had threatened to murder their entire family. They had no weapons, and nowhere to flee: nothing but a locked front door to protect them. When they were rescued by the Colombian army, their entire town was in ruins with burning bodies hanging from the lamp posts.
Roberto says that everyone in Colombia who has a little power uses it for personal gain. The police are not well trained, paid very poorly, and not respected; therefore they almost always take bribes and are corrupt. Organized crime with police, judges, and government officials on the payroll are very common. It was in this environment that Pablo began his life as a crime boss, smuggling contaband to avoid paying taxes on merchandise shipped from Panama: washing machines, television sets, and other merchandise that he could sell for a deep discount because he hadn't paid the import taxes.
Soon he became involved in trafficking cocaine, a drug which was mostly unknown outside of Latin America at the time. He set up drug labs deep in the jungle, complete with housing for the workers, medical facilities, and even schools for their children. He devised dozens of ingenious systems for transporting the finished product across the borders, and finally, into the United States. He had a fleet of planes lined with secret compartments, and hundreds of employees.
As Pablo's business grew, he soon came into conflict with rival gangs, resulting in the drug wars of the 1980s. The Colombian government was powerless to stop the warring cartels, which had more soldiers and better weapons than the legitimate army. In this way, the US government became involved, attempting to stop the massacres in Colombia and stem the flow of smuggled cocaine. Pablo became the most wanted man in America, and was forced into hiding in the Colombian city of Medellin.
At the height of his empire, Pablo Escobar was one of Forbes magazine's richest men in the world. Although he was a despised villain here in the US, he was beloved by the poor of Colombia for his efforts to releive their poverty. He funded the construction of schools and hospitals, employed countless thousands, and even set up his country's first system of Social Security, all financed with drug money.
It's easy to consider a man like Pablo a monster: he was undoubtedly responsible for horrific acts of cruelty. Nonetheless, many recall him as a hero in a country where the rich did nothing for the poor.
Roberto's story is very personal: he shares a lot of stories from their childhood, and was with his infamous brother to the very end of his life. Roberto now resides quiety on a ranch, nearly blinded by a letter bomb, sent to assassinate him in prison.
The Accountant's Story is exciting from the very first page, I learned a lot about the drug trade and the situation in Latin America, and it's sure to be enjoyed by anyone who likes a dark and tragic anti-hero. This book is a rare oppurtunity to read about someone destined to make history, told by someone who knew him from the very beginning.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

This is a question for the webmaster/admin here at

Can I use some of the information from your blog post right above if I give a link back to your website?


Anonymous said...


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