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Saviano’s Gomorrah, his explosive account of the Neapolitan mob, the Camorra, was a worldwide sensation. It struck such a nerve with the Camorra that Saviano has lived with twenty-four-hour police protection for more than eight years. During this time he has come to know law enforcement agencies and officials around the world. With their cooperation, Savaiano has broadened Saviano’s Gomorrah, his explosive account of the Neapolitan mob, the Camorra, was a worldwide sensation. It struck such a nerve with the Camorra that Saviano has lived with twenty-four-hour police protection for more than eight years. During this time he has come to know law enforcement agencies and officials around the world. With their cooperation, Savaiano has broadened his perspective to take in the entire global “corporate” entity that is the drug trade and the complex money-laundering operations that allow it to function, often with the help of the world’s biggest banks. The result is a harrowing and groundbreaking synthesis of literary narrative and geopolitical analysis exploring one of the most powerful dark forces in our economy. Saviano tracks the shift in the cocaine trade’s axis of power, from Colombia to Mexico, and relates how the Latin American cartels and gangs have forged alliances with crime syndicates across the globe. He charts the increasing sophistication of these criminal entities as they diversify into other products and markets. He also reveals the astonishing increase in the severity of violence as they have fought to protect and extend their power.


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Saviano’s Gomorrah, his explosive account of the Neapolitan mob, the Camorra, was a worldwide sensation. It struck such a nerve with the Camorra that Saviano has lived with twenty-four-hour police protection for more than eight years. During this time he has come to know law enforcement agencies and officials around the world. With their cooperation, Savaiano has broadened Saviano’s Gomorrah, his explosive account of the Neapolitan mob, the Camorra, was a worldwide sensation. It struck such a nerve with the Camorra that Saviano has lived with twenty-four-hour police protection for more than eight years. During this time he has come to know law enforcement agencies and officials around the world. With their cooperation, Savaiano has broadened his perspective to take in the entire global “corporate” entity that is the drug trade and the complex money-laundering operations that allow it to function, often with the help of the world’s biggest banks. The result is a harrowing and groundbreaking synthesis of literary narrative and geopolitical analysis exploring one of the most powerful dark forces in our economy. Saviano tracks the shift in the cocaine trade’s axis of power, from Colombia to Mexico, and relates how the Latin American cartels and gangs have forged alliances with crime syndicates across the globe. He charts the increasing sophistication of these criminal entities as they diversify into other products and markets. He also reveals the astonishing increase in the severity of violence as they have fought to protect and extend their power.

30 review for ZERO ZERO ZERO - AUDIOBOOK

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    After the amazing Gomorrah and a few years of hiding from under a several million dollar death threat from the Camorra, and the great movie and TV show that came out of that work, Roberto Saviano wrote a second even more powerful analysis of the worldwide cocaine industry. In his typically interesting and yet terrifying style, he demonstrates the entire chain of cocoa plants to processed cocaine to international distribution to local dealers and corner boys and how the various interlocking mafia After the amazing Gomorrah and a few years of hiding from under a several million dollar death threat from the Camorra, and the great movie and TV show that came out of that work, Roberto Saviano wrote a second even more powerful analysis of the worldwide cocaine industry. In his typically interesting and yet terrifying style, he demonstrates the entire chain of cocoa plants to processed cocaine to international distribution to local dealers and corner boys and how the various interlocking mafias and cartels behind the traffic clean the money. The most frightening aspect is the influence that the mountains of money have underpinning the financial markets, oil business, and elsewhere - more money than anyone knows what to do with. Given Drumpf's clear ties to the mafia (Trump Towers were built with mafia cement and unorganised mafia labor, his casinos in Vegas are tied to various mafia-related organisations) and to Putin (himself a chairman or investor on several businesses owned by the Russian mob (documented in Saviano's book), it is a critical read at this particular point in time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Brutal and compelling investigation of the international cocaine market The scope and volume of the infomation in this book is staggering. Saviano has compiled what must have been years of research into every aspect of the massive trade in cocaine, from the fields where it is grown to the smallest retail transactions on the street. He uses a great deal of statistics and research to good effect, but I would have liked to have seen more reference to the origin of his sources. In any case, his argum Brutal and compelling investigation of the international cocaine market The scope and volume of the infomation in this book is staggering. Saviano has compiled what must have been years of research into every aspect of the massive trade in cocaine, from the fields where it is grown to the smallest retail transactions on the street. He uses a great deal of statistics and research to good effect, but I would have liked to have seen more reference to the origin of his sources. In any case, his arguments about the modernisation and globalisation of cocaine production and distribution is well constructed and astonishing, it is almost impossible to imagine the amount of money involved. Likewise, the sickening violence that goes hand in hand with the trade. The descriptions in the book are detailed and savage, the dark imagination of those that use terror have no depths. Coming from a small English town, it is disorientating to imagine growing up in a world where torture and elaborate displays of death are facts of life. The fear that must imbue such communities would be impossible to escape, I cannot imagine the strength and courage it would take to stand against these people, especially as it could easily mean death to you and all those around you. It makes me wonder how Saviano lives and how much effect writing this book, and his other Gomorrah, has had on his life. It kept hitting me again and again while reading that this is now. Though Saviano refers to the growth of the trade and its many permeations, this work is uptodate and extremely relevant. The people he talks about are in prison today or out in the streets, some are dead or will be soon, the new generation is pushing their way up the ranks, and the agencies of law enforcement seem to be losing or, in some cases, actively assisting. The extent of the problem is portrayed particularly well by Saviano, he uses the book to expose the breadth of the cocaine market by individual stories, built to provide a convincing case for global influence. Sometimes this tactic seems to overwhelm him a little, he frequently moves back and forward in time or place in ways which confuse rather than add to his narrative. Yet overall, the picture he presents is clear; the cocaine trade is one that needs immediate and decisive attention and action. I wasn't entirely convinced by his assertion that legalisation is the route to a breakthrough but I don't have any better suggestions. After reading this, I'm not even sure that significant and conclusive improvement is possible. Many thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Disclaimer: Physical ARC provided by Penguin. It’s a good thing that Saviano is not a drug pusher because if he was, more people would be addicted. Saviano’s Zero ZeroZero is a book about cocaine and the Cartels that control the ebb and flow as well as subtle effects on the society at large. Saviano looks at the global cocaine trade, so the focus is on the global aspects instead of the local dealer. While the Cartels get most of the focus, there is a powerful chapter about drug mules. The polic Disclaimer: Physical ARC provided by Penguin. It’s a good thing that Saviano is not a drug pusher because if he was, more people would be addicted. Saviano’s Zero ZeroZero is a book about cocaine and the Cartels that control the ebb and flow as well as subtle effects on the society at large. Saviano looks at the global cocaine trade, so the focus is on the global aspects instead of the local dealer. While the Cartels get most of the focus, there is a powerful chapter about drug mules. The police who try to stop the drug trade are also given attention, including a chapter about dogs (and that chapter is not entirely pleasant reading for dog lovers). While there are connections between the Cartels and the mob in Italian, this is even more global in scope than Gomorrah. Saviano divides his book into sections, and each sections begins with what amounts in most of the cases to a prose poem that details an aspect of the cocaine trade (the most factual one details different ways of smuggling cocaine. These prologues to each section not only the allure the drug has, but also touch on the nature of addiction, something that we can never fully understand. If any writer gets the reader close to that impossible understanding, it is Saviano in these sections. This book is more relevant for the average citizen, in particular the average citizen of the United States as well as México and Columbia, because of the look at how the War on Drugs fails at an international level as well as a governmental level. While there is not a close look at the effects of the average citizen in say México as there was in books such as Murder City, Saviano does much to highlight the violence that usually gets simple lip service. Part of the reason why this book is not a quick read is that Saviano’s writing is like dark chocolate, you need to think about what you just read after 20-40 pages. Another reason is that he doesn’t pull punches when describing what the cartels do to some people. And the American news really doesn’t report that all that well. Sometimes, however, you shouldn’t pull punches. Sometimes, in particular when trying to make people aware, you can’t be nice and sensitive. And then there is the whole chapter about Africa. Is it the beginning of some other type of cartel? Is it an extension of fallout of colonialism? A combination of the two? It’s strange, though. When describing the violence, Saviano is impersonal, but it is quite clear in parts that the book is in some manner personal. At times, Saviano slips in personal details about his life since the publication of Gomorrah (he is under protection) and one wonders, in particular, in a chapter about a journalist who is killed by the cartel, if Saviano sees something of himself in the reporters there, if the subject is personal because of the risk. And this comes out in section that talks about the danger of reading – and it is a danger because you can never unread or unknown (unless you get hurt or sick). It is a danger, but also a power. Saviano mediates on this. Does a writer’s desire to give that power to a reader though the connivance of knowledge always work and is it worth the risks (and in some cases the death) that the reporter faces? Do readers abdicate that power when they put the book down and do nothing with their newfound knowledge? Does the media let people done by appealing the lowest of the lowest denominators? Perhaps because I’ve recently been to the Newseum and seen its Wall of the Fallen that I thought about these issues during the second half of this book. Saviano must be one of the few writers alive (if not the only one)who can take a topic such as drugs and constantly morph it though the book, drawing connections to everything. Read this, and you will never look at cocaine or illegal drugs the same way again. (A quick note – I read ARC so the final version might have what I actually really wanted when I reached the half way point. I wanted a person list to help keep the various members of the cartels straight. Sometimes a great many names come very, very quickly. A list would have helped.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leftbanker

    Once again, like with Gomorrah, a really good TV series was extrapolated from a shoddy nonfiction piece of journalism. I really liked ZeroZeroZero, the recent TV series, so I thought I’d give the book a read. Just like with Gomorrah, the book is mediocre, and that’s in the good parts. OMG is this guy a shitty journalist. I really hate his opinionated musings on cocaine usage and how great it makes you feel. I completely disagree. I’ve tried cocaine quite a few times and it does nothing much for m Once again, like with Gomorrah, a really good TV series was extrapolated from a shoddy nonfiction piece of journalism. I really liked ZeroZeroZero, the recent TV series, so I thought I’d give the book a read. Just like with Gomorrah, the book is mediocre, and that’s in the good parts. OMG is this guy a shitty journalist. I really hate his opinionated musings on cocaine usage and how great it makes you feel. I completely disagree. I’ve tried cocaine quite a few times and it does nothing much for me. I never understood its popularity. Obviously, cocaine is popular, but he makes it out as if everyone but you is snorting their brains out every day. Most of this book reads like he did no investigating of his own and merely perused newspaper articles on the topic and rewrote them. There is very little cohesion to anything he writes and the book just sort of meanders through the world of crime, both organized and otherwise. A good portion of it isn’t even about cocaine. How they made a half-decent TV series out of this is like a magic trick. I can't believe that the author of this book even gets credit at all for the series.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Antoine Badel

    A disjointed, pointless mess of a book. A laundry list of drug crime descriptions interspersed with the author's random musings on his life. A disjointed, pointless mess of a book. A laundry list of drug crime descriptions interspersed with the author's random musings on his life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    Roberto Saviano dedicates his book to his police bodyguards, for he’s a writer in that small and exclusive club: one with a target on his back. While Salman Rushdie, another famous alumni of the club, dared to say something critical about, Saviano took on Camorrah in his previous bestseller Gamorrah. His previous book was a passionately angry screed, in part based on his own personal experiences, against the Neapolitan mafia that were poisoning his home town of Naples. His anger dripped from the Roberto Saviano dedicates his book to his police bodyguards, for he’s a writer in that small and exclusive club: one with a target on his back. While Salman Rushdie, another famous alumni of the club, dared to say something critical about, Saviano took on Camorrah in his previous bestseller Gamorrah. His previous book was a passionately angry screed, in part based on his own personal experiences, against the Neapolitan mafia that were poisoning his home town of Naples. His anger dripped from the pages of that tome and so it was with similar expectations that I approached his latest offering, an examination of the international cocaine trade. Zero Zero Zero is in some ways the better book. It’s more sober, reflecting the author’s own distance from the subject. Before reading the book I saw an interview Saviano did with the BBC’s Hardtalk programme, where he explained that while he couldn’t walk the streets like he used to, his contacts with the police were now ironically better. He said that he was able to interview leading narcotics officers throughout the world and the book certainly reflects both that approach and that level of access. Saviano surveys the cocaine trade from Colombia, through the Mexican cartels and the vicious narco-wars that have wracked that nation, through transit through Africa and into the hands of ‘Ndranghetta, not the most powerful of Italy’s mafias. It’s an impressive achievement and once again he doesn’t shy away from naming names. The problem is that while Zero Zero Zero is undoubtedly a good book, a great book even, Saviano is increasingly playing in a crowded field. Other writers and journalists have similar levels of access and have written similar works. Don Winslow’s seminal novels The Power of The Dog and The Cartel, describe the tragedy that is modern Mexico in heartbreakingly poetic prose, while a new documentary film Cartel Land is bringing the story to the silver screen. John Dickie has published a number of books on Italy’s mafias, including the ‘Ndranghetta, while the cocaine trade more widely has been covered as far back as Gary Webb in his work the Dark Alliance. Gamorrah was fresh exactly because Saviano had lived it, walked the streets of Naples, seen where the bodies were gunned down, smelt the fetid air of a countryside polluted by industrial waste ferried down from the north of Italy by a criminal sub-culture so debased that they were happy to poison their own hinterland fro a fast buck. Zero Zero Zero simply can’t compete. In short Zero Zero Zero is a great book, it’s just that Gamorah was better.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I tried to read this book and just couldn't. The writing style was just so weird, I kept thinking, "Get to the point!" I tried to read this book and just couldn't. The writing style was just so weird, I kept thinking, "Get to the point!"

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bon Tom

    Some call author's suggestion of legalization "half hearted". Why would you, if it's obvious and only choice after reading through all the brutality and destroyed lives of whole families and communities on the one hand, and individuals that get richer than god from illegal trade on the other. Any suggestions for better solution? Some call author's suggestion of legalization "half hearted". Why would you, if it's obvious and only choice after reading through all the brutality and destroyed lives of whole families and communities on the one hand, and individuals that get richer than god from illegal trade on the other. Any suggestions for better solution?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    A history of the cocaine trade with some good anecdotes. Not as much analysis as I was hoping for, though. He makes a half-hearted argument for legalization at the end of the book, but he figures even that won't end the violence. Really want to read Gomorrah, his first book about the Camorra in Naples that he risked his life to write. He now lives with a 24/7 police bodyguard detail. Most interesting stories were about: 1. Bruno Fuduli - pressured into giving up an honest life to to become a high A history of the cocaine trade with some good anecdotes. Not as much analysis as I was hoping for, though. He makes a half-hearted argument for legalization at the end of the book, but he figures even that won't end the violence. Really want to read Gomorrah, his first book about the Camorra in Naples that he risked his life to write. He now lives with a 24/7 police bodyguard detail. Most interesting stories were about: 1. Bruno Fuduli - pressured into giving up an honest life to to become a high stakes cocaine broker the Camorra, he became a police informant of his own free will, but left to get into the cocaine trade for himself when he found witness protection disagreeable. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/b... 2. The Kaibil - one of the most brutal fighting forces I've ever heard of, jungle counter-insurgents from Guatemala. It's where George R.R. Martin stole that killing a puppy thing from, but that's the least of it. Very scary stuff. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaibiles 3. The stuff about the financial end of it, the money laundering, and how so many banks are essentially propped up by cocaine money. What a mess. 4. The Knights Templar Cartel, which claims to have an ethical code based on the old knights templar.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Simón

    The topic is very, very interesting, and the amount of information is incredible. The delivery... What a pain. Unstructured, chaotic, almost a brain dump. In the acknowledgements, the author thanks somebody for her help with the structure. I can only guess this was previously even harder to swallow. (Maybe this was a nod to the "mules" and their challenging task) The topic is very, very interesting, and the amount of information is incredible. The delivery... What a pain. Unstructured, chaotic, almost a brain dump. In the acknowledgements, the author thanks somebody for her help with the structure. I can only guess this was previously even harder to swallow. (Maybe this was a nod to the "mules" and their challenging task)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eduard

    Not entirely new stuff here as there are many books written on the subject of drug trafficking. This is just one of them. Not the best book on it, but still worthy to check out. Insight into the global reach of drug trafficking including Europe.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    I wasn't that overly struck on Gomorrah, much preferring the film to the book. This though, was a different beast altogether. A more interesting, broader in scope, and chilling look at the global power house that is the cocaine trade. Read mostly because of recent viewings of both Narcos Mexico and Sicario, so I was getting a real taste for cartels, money laundering, mules, etc... It didn't disappoint. For me, this is Saviano's best work so far. Some of the statistics presented here were just min I wasn't that overly struck on Gomorrah, much preferring the film to the book. This though, was a different beast altogether. A more interesting, broader in scope, and chilling look at the global power house that is the cocaine trade. Read mostly because of recent viewings of both Narcos Mexico and Sicario, so I was getting a real taste for cartels, money laundering, mules, etc... It didn't disappoint. For me, this is Saviano's best work so far. Some of the statistics presented here were just mind blowing. But more so, damn right terrifying. While I don't really class him as a particularly great writer, he is an important one. He opened my eyes as wide as they can go to a hidden world that is a LOT bigger than I realised.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ruggero Bettinardi

    Literary reportage, which paints and details the history, stories, lives, deaths and mechanisms of the world trafficking of cocaine, from Escobar's Colombia to the Mexico of the Zetas, passing through West Africa and the Calabrian Aspromonte to Holland, Germany, Australia, by sea, by feet, train, sky, submarine, pigeons, stomaches.. Incredible and frightening numbers and stories, told with insight and passion. I have found the writing a little too "poetic" for my tastes every now and then, as wel Literary reportage, which paints and details the history, stories, lives, deaths and mechanisms of the world trafficking of cocaine, from Escobar's Colombia to the Mexico of the Zetas, passing through West Africa and the Calabrian Aspromonte to Holland, Germany, Australia, by sea, by feet, train, sky, submarine, pigeons, stomaches.. Incredible and frightening numbers and stories, told with insight and passion. I have found the writing a little too "poetic" for my tastes every now and then, as well as the choice to list long lists of facts, numbers, names, but this does not detract from the value of the book itself.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adeel

    Bits of incredibly interesting information interspersed amongst a mountain of disjointed fluff. The author readily admits that he's not a professional writer and just wanted the world to know what he knows, but despite a strong introduction, this shortcoming is quite evident in his writing style which did little to keep me engaged. Bits of incredibly interesting information interspersed amongst a mountain of disjointed fluff. The author readily admits that he's not a professional writer and just wanted the world to know what he knows, but despite a strong introduction, this shortcoming is quite evident in his writing style which did little to keep me engaged.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Gutermuth

    Intense, unsettling, lengthy, but I never wanted it to stop. This book changed the way I see the world. Some of the most beautiful, haunted, agonizing prose I have ever read. A work of art.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Augustin Gatman

    Cocaine as pure capitalism. If you want to understand the world of drugs, money and how the world's economy work, read Saviano. Cocaine as pure capitalism. If you want to understand the world of drugs, money and how the world's economy work, read Saviano.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Volodymyr Melnyk

    This is an outstanding inquiry on the drug trade, i.e. production, transportation, last-mile delivery, and the people involved in this chain. It was scary to understand the volume and sophistication of the drug trade, the extent of corruption of high-rank policemen and government officials who support the trade and benefit from it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Polansky

    I read this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Doreen

    ***READ THIS BOOK***! Robert Saviano's, "Zero Zero Zero", is an amazingly detailed account about the big business of cocaine trafficking. Similar to his other book, "Gomorrah", Saviano provides overwhelming information about illegal activities and how these activities direct world politics and economy. "Zero Zero Zero", addresses cocaine's origins and its history. Beginning with Columbia and Mexico, these cartels operate as a multi-million dollar industry, while employing violence, bribery and in ***READ THIS BOOK***! Robert Saviano's, "Zero Zero Zero", is an amazingly detailed account about the big business of cocaine trafficking. Similar to his other book, "Gomorrah", Saviano provides overwhelming information about illegal activities and how these activities direct world politics and economy. "Zero Zero Zero", addresses cocaine's origins and its history. Beginning with Columbia and Mexico, these cartels operate as a multi-million dollar industry, while employing violence, bribery and intimidation to move their product, globally. Saviano covers every aspect associated with cocaine production and distribution, including the introduction of liquid cocaine. Bloody torture and killings made public on YouTube...payoffs on all levels...moving product by land, sea, air, and underground tunnels...cocaine hidden in marble, produce, carpets, flowers, canned goods...cocaine transported inside humans and dogs, the latter of which may be sliced open to retrieve the coke and then left to die. All this is real and occurs on a grand scale. Saviano is nothing, if not thorough! Every step of this violent business is investigated by Saviano. Europe, Africa, Russia, all corners of the globe highlight cocaine's prominence in the world market. He explains Spain's welcoming ports. He tracks the lives and deaths of cocaine's key players. Saviano calls one trafficker, 'the Copernicus of cocaine' because 'he is the first to understand that it's not the world of cocaine that must orbit around the markets, but the markets that must orbit around cocaine'. The global cocaine industry is innovative, optimizing technology and adhering to the free market spirit. Money-laundering involving legitimate banks and other businesses creates dangerous alliances with narco-terrorists. Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman of the Sinaloa cartel escaped from a Mexican prison one day before I finished reading, "Zero Zero Zero". The significance of his escape would have seemed like a foreign, distant event to me, instead of the impactful event for the cocaine community. The information gleaned from this book has opened my understanding to the violent, invasive underworld. The writing is translated from Italian to English. It's not easy to read, but it's WORTH READING! The best advice I can give is to read with the purpose of understanding the practices and logistics of drug-trafficking. Read it to appreciate cocaine's influential position in the world; its place of prominence as a multi-national industry. It's difficult to keep track of the many names included here; El Chapo, El Magico, El Padrinho, El Mono, etc. So, don't focus on memorization. It's not crucial. What is crucial is understanding the scale on which these people operate; their local and global impact; their power; their ruthlessness; their elaborate creativity for product distribution and for money-laundering. I read an ARC provided by Penguin Press, New York. Having written both "Gomorrah" and "Zero Zero Zero", it would seem that Robert Saviano will never have the opportunity to lead a normal life. His 24-hour police protection will continue. He has sacrificed so much of himself in order to provide readers with factual, verifiable information about these criminal activities. As a reader, I appreciate and admire the courage and selflessness required of Saviano to have written these books. He is a brave man.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Iain Macleod

    Depressing and frightening but Saviano's investigation on how one illegal substance and the various cartels that push it and exert their own malignant influence on the world and its economy never relenquishes its grip on the reader. One of the few books I've read that's made me swear out loud in public whilst reading it. Depressing and frightening but Saviano's investigation on how one illegal substance and the various cartels that push it and exert their own malignant influence on the world and its economy never relenquishes its grip on the reader. One of the few books I've read that's made me swear out loud in public whilst reading it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    Since he wrote his internationally acclaimed exposure of the Neapolitan Camorra, Robert Saviano’s life has been in constant danger and he is now always accompanied by armed Carabinieri. He will only have made more enemies with his latest book, an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) in-depth exploration of the international cocaine trade. Wide-ranging, detailed, often discursive, it’s a passionate and deeply felt account of how the drug trade works, who the key players are, and to what extent c Since he wrote his internationally acclaimed exposure of the Neapolitan Camorra, Robert Saviano’s life has been in constant danger and he is now always accompanied by armed Carabinieri. He will only have made more enemies with his latest book, an exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) in-depth exploration of the international cocaine trade. Wide-ranging, detailed, often discursive, it’s a passionate and deeply felt account of how the drug trade works, who the key players are, and to what extent cocaine has infiltrated all levels of society, in ways most readers will never have given much thought to before. It’s an eye-opening and often shocking account. There are some remarkable revelations here, and by the end the reader has been made all too horrifyingly aware of the damage done by cocaine to individuals, families, institutions and even whole countries. It’s not always an easy-read. Saviano doesn’t present us with an academic study in measured tones, but an impassioned and deeply felt exposé which, if it feels somewhat overwhelming at times, perhaps even repetitious and overwritten, in need of some serious editing, nevertheless remains an important and valuable story of cocaine and its world-wide trade.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eliana Lima

    I gotta say, boring and depressing are not a good combo. A lot of this book read like a Wikipedia article to me. Just long, winded descriptions of trafficker after trafficker and laundry lists of all the terrible things they did or witnessed. This is one of those books that tries to convince you that the world is a scary, awful place and we should all be cynical and wake up. Ugh. Not my kind of thing. I will say it thankfully picked up a little toward the end with shorter, more focused chapters. I gotta say, boring and depressing are not a good combo. A lot of this book read like a Wikipedia article to me. Just long, winded descriptions of trafficker after trafficker and laundry lists of all the terrible things they did or witnessed. This is one of those books that tries to convince you that the world is a scary, awful place and we should all be cynical and wake up. Ugh. Not my kind of thing. I will say it thankfully picked up a little toward the end with shorter, more focused chapters. I wanted to continue crawling to the end of this book because I thought I might learn something. I would say mission accomplished, I did learn a little, but I don't know if it was worth all 380-ish pages. There was one particularly violent sequence that I was I could unread too (had to do with pregnant women which is definitely a weakpoint for me). The weirdest part of this book to me was that it was a fiction-nonfiction hybrid but BARELY. The fiction made up such a tiny part of the book that it felt out of place and unnecessary. Whenever it would switch over to first person I was just like "Who's speaking again??" Bizarre. Whelp. Onto the next one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liam Green

    One of the best nonfiction books I've ever read. Its essential thesis is that cocaine fuels the global economy more than almost anything else, and because of how coke money is laundered and spread, virtually all money in circulation has been coke money at one point or another. Plenty of nonfiction, even when the subject matter is interesting, is dryly written. This isn't. Roberto Saviano (with the help of translator Virginia Madsen in this English translation) takes you all over the globe in exam One of the best nonfiction books I've ever read. Its essential thesis is that cocaine fuels the global economy more than almost anything else, and because of how coke money is laundered and spread, virtually all money in circulation has been coke money at one point or another. Plenty of nonfiction, even when the subject matter is interesting, is dryly written. This isn't. Roberto Saviano (with the help of translator Virginia Madsen in this English translation) takes you all over the globe in examination of how cocaine travels, and does so with language that manages to be simultaneously elegant and blunt. It isn't specifically linear and particularly toward the end becomes more like a series of vignettes than a cohesive singular narrative, but Saviano has already made his point by then, and it's not as if these later chapters are boring, so no problem. Obviously not for the squeamish - no punches are pulled regarding the violence that coke dealing engenders.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leib Mitchell

    Dated information repackaged as though it's not. Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2020 Lots of things to think about this book, which was in DIRE need of an editor. **The book is a babbling, unfocused disaster. The author is so busy trying to write with the Hunter-Thompson-style "tough guy" prose that he forgets to try to bring across the information in a way that is easy for the reader to follow and absorb. **None of this information is particularly new (for instance: one of the dealers i Dated information repackaged as though it's not. Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2020 Lots of things to think about this book, which was in DIRE need of an editor. **The book is a babbling, unfocused disaster. The author is so busy trying to write with the Hunter-Thompson-style "tough guy" prose that he forgets to try to bring across the information in a way that is easy for the reader to follow and absorb. **None of this information is particularly new (for instance: one of the dealers in this book--Helmer Herrera-- has been dead since 1998), and there have been books such as "Freakonomics" and "Dreamland" that detail the business aspects of the drug trade. (And let's be clear that that is what it is -- a business.) We all know that when there is an avalanche, there was that first snowflake that caused it. But that particular snowflake is less important than the initial conditions that were such that one snowflake could cause so much damage. Well known scenario: There is a country that has weak law enforcement, into whose vacuums the cartels step. And then that leader gets killed, and someone else tries to take his place. (p. 276) -Who didn't know that the drug cartels are a gigantic game of King of the Hill? (There is one on top, but there are always people under him that are trying to find a way to be number one when he is arrested / killed / displaced by some other means.) Again: Are all the details as important as the initial conditions? **This author tries to make us believe that he has gone undercover and found so much sensitive information that he had to go into hiding, but it appears that all of this information is public knowledge. (Every one of these things was able to be looked up on Wikipedia. And a lot of the cartels that were mentioned in this book have gone out of business as of the writing of this book--which is referencing a lot of events from 20 and 25 years ago.) -Who didn't know that the prospect of having a job of the president is what makes a company get maximum mileage out of vice presidents? -We also knew that the best way to contaminate your law enforcement is to put them up against drug cartels, who are better funded, better organized, and have their own survival on the line. -We know that drug cartels don't allow their own members to use what they sell. (Talk about actions speaking louder than words.) Is any government anywhere a match for the levels of organization of drug cartel businesses? *Could* any government anywhere be a match for it? ********** As a service to readers of this review (and as a way to go back and summarize / organize what I have read), a one sentence synopsis of every chapter. 1. Waffle that tries to burnish the authors Tough Guy Credentials/tone. 2. The tragic story of Kiki Camarena shows how important Mexican cartels have become. 3. Skirmishes between Mexican drug cartels. 4. Mexican drug cartels slaughter lots of innocent people to assert their authority in various Mexican provinces. 5. Drug cartels have their own military forces, often composed of ex-military personnel of this or that country. 6. Vicious killings of rival cartel members by Los Zetas. 7. Cocaine distribution networks at street level. 8. Details of the drug trade in Colombia. 9. The Italian diaspora/ mafia as a mechanism to connect the European drug trade to the South American. 10. Representative profiles of 2 cocaine managers. 11. A convoluted chapter on the convoluted process of money laundering. 12. Drug czars step into the vacuum created by political instability resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union. 13. Cocaine can be shipped by sea, and it is an EXTREMELY logistically complex process that requires PhD engineer levels of planning. 14. African morass and weak/corrupt governments make Africa an ideal place for (European/ South American) drug traffickers, and it is all brokered by Nigerian criminals who make use of abundant and low-valued/low-priced African life as mules. 15. Scattered and bizarre thoughts about living under police protection. (Which is for his work on the mafia and not the drug trade.) 16. The drug war as seen through the eyes of a drug-sniffing dog. 17. A documentary about drug gangs made by a photojournalist who paid for his documentary with his life. 18. Various stories, including those of Griselda Blanco (an extremely ugly and psychotic female drug trafficker worth 2 billion) and Sandra Avila Beltran (another female drug kingpin). 19. More babbling about what a Tough Guy he is because he does "investigative" journalism on the topic of drugs. ********** The tragedy of this ridiculous farce is that these cartels only exist because drugs are outlawed. In terms of human lives it defies belief: 164,000 people killed *just* in Mexico from 2007 to 2014. More than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined--almost half as many as have died in Syria's never-ending Civil War. Some of this morass is the special case of Central / Latin American: They have had difficulty running governments for a very long time. And political instability and gangs stepping into the vacuum created by problems that the government was incompetent to solve are present even in books-written-a-half-century-ago that describe the events of a century ago. (James Michener's "Centennial," a book that has nothing to do with drugs.) The cartels themselves have a lot of strange features. Some of them are religious movements. Some of them are nationalist. Some of them are leftist. Anything, I guess in order to give ideological window dressing. Verdict: I can only weakly recommend this book: 1. The information is too dated, and takes too much effort too fish for; 2. There are other, better-edited books that do a better job focusing on the business aspects of the drug trade with a minimum of prattle.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chandy

    I won this book in a Goodreads First to Read contest. There were some typos in this edition, as can be expected in a draft, so I am not going to waste my time talking about that. This was a very interesting read. This is the story of how drug cartels and what not came to be. They are very intricate, and have such assorted pasts. The author leaves us with a great question in our minds in the end. The only problem that I had personally had reading this is that it got a little confusing keeping tra I won this book in a Goodreads First to Read contest. There were some typos in this edition, as can be expected in a draft, so I am not going to waste my time talking about that. This was a very interesting read. This is the story of how drug cartels and what not came to be. They are very intricate, and have such assorted pasts. The author leaves us with a great question in our minds in the end. The only problem that I had personally had reading this is that it got a little confusing keeping track of all of the people and how they are connected. IT would have been nice to have some kind of family tree of some kind to keep track of the interconnectedness of people. All in all, it was very interesting to see how the cartels came to be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The horrors of the cocaine economy build slowly but surely in ZeroZeroZero. Roberto Saviano starts with what seems like a cynical ploy--someone in your life, he says, is using coke. But by the end you find yourself nodding your head, overwhelmed by the numbers. With that much of the white stuff flowing across our borders, it's not at all surprising that there's a sort of secretive ubiquity. More importantly, Saviano digs into the ways organized crime and private armies have profited from the mis The horrors of the cocaine economy build slowly but surely in ZeroZeroZero. Roberto Saviano starts with what seems like a cynical ploy--someone in your life, he says, is using coke. But by the end you find yourself nodding your head, overwhelmed by the numbers. With that much of the white stuff flowing across our borders, it's not at all surprising that there's a sort of secretive ubiquity. More importantly, Saviano digs into the ways organized crime and private armies have profited from the misery of others. It's not a pretty picture, and the fact that Saviano's been living in police protection for years because of a previous expose on Italian organized crime adds a poignant immediacy to his plaintive final chapter.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason Gonsalez

    At first I was wondering what did I get myself in to. But man with this Novel you realize that cocaine doesn't just hurt the person using it, it effects a lot more people than what you think. The brutal stories this writer speaks of are heart wrenching. No good news comes out of something involving the Drug Lords. Good for them for a bit but, in the end cocaine will find a way to even screw them and take them for all they've got too. If you ever wanted to know about cocaine and the people who gr At first I was wondering what did I get myself in to. But man with this Novel you realize that cocaine doesn't just hurt the person using it, it effects a lot more people than what you think. The brutal stories this writer speaks of are heart wrenching. No good news comes out of something involving the Drug Lords. Good for them for a bit but, in the end cocaine will find a way to even screw them and take them for all they've got too. If you ever wanted to know about cocaine and the people who grow it and sell it, Robert Saviano is your Willy Wonka he has your golden ticket in this Novel.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eszter Balazs

    Saviano knows his story, obviously, but does not take enough care to deliver it in a way that the reader gets to know it, too. Fractions of stories, out-of-the-blue conclusions, stray soul-seeking, non sequitur episodes one after the other. I suffered it through because of the depth of knowledge the author has does result here and there in some pockets of comprehensive information, but in general, this is a mess, also failing to illustrate its main thesis that the economy revolves around cocaine Saviano knows his story, obviously, but does not take enough care to deliver it in a way that the reader gets to know it, too. Fractions of stories, out-of-the-blue conclusions, stray soul-seeking, non sequitur episodes one after the other. I suffered it through because of the depth of knowledge the author has does result here and there in some pockets of comprehensive information, but in general, this is a mess, also failing to illustrate its main thesis that the economy revolves around cocaine. If only an editor had seen Saviano's raw material.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Umut

    If you're interested in the subject of how drugs becamse one of the rulers of the World, this is definitely the read for you. It's an immense industry in which Billions of dollars change hands. lots of lives ruined. Roberto Saviano is a brave and controversial journalist, who wrote about the fathers of the drug world and how all this system works. It was a very informative and interesting read, and at the same time very sad to learn it was so big that I could never imagine. I also listened this If you're interested in the subject of how drugs becamse one of the rulers of the World, this is definitely the read for you. It's an immense industry in which Billions of dollars change hands. lots of lives ruined. Roberto Saviano is a brave and controversial journalist, who wrote about the fathers of the drug world and how all this system works. It was a very informative and interesting read, and at the same time very sad to learn it was so big that I could never imagine. I also listened this book on Audible, and it was very good. I would definitely recommend it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Philip Girvan

    Overall, it's scattered, but Saviano draws you in and illustrates, with examples, how the cocaine trade underwrites legitimate business. Amazing to consider how much worse the Great Recession of 2008-09 would have been had the illegal drug trade not been propping up the financial system. Book contains any number of wild anecdotes and does provide some good history particularly on the rise of the Mexican cartels at the expense of the Colombians. A curious read that would have benefited from a mor Overall, it's scattered, but Saviano draws you in and illustrates, with examples, how the cocaine trade underwrites legitimate business. Amazing to consider how much worse the Great Recession of 2008-09 would have been had the illegal drug trade not been propping up the financial system. Book contains any number of wild anecdotes and does provide some good history particularly on the rise of the Mexican cartels at the expense of the Colombians. A curious read that would have benefited from a more structured approach.

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