Snowblind: A Brief Car...
Robert Sabbag
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Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  439 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Called "a triumphant piece of reporting" (The New Yorker), Snowblind is an all-out, nonstop, and now classic look at the cocaine trade through the eyes of smuggler Zachary Swan. In a brief Roman-candle career, Swan served an elegant clientele, traveling between Bogota and the nightclubs of New York, inventing intricate scams to outmaneuver the feds. Creating diversions tha
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1976)
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This book is worth reading for several reasons:
1. No matter how you feel about drugs, and cocaine in particular, the author brilliantly and ambitiously unmasks the underground netherworld of cocaine smuggling, and humanizes a notoriously inhuman trade. It takes the nonsense you see Lou Dobbs spouting, with his perfectly fake, immaculately white chompers, on CNN about the notorious killers, thugs, and illicit monsters that smuggle drugs, and makes you realize your 50 year old neighbor may be har...more
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It's fiction, but just barely. This is one of the better books I've read on any micro-topic (in this case the history of cocaine smuggling in the 1970s). It's funny, very informative, and high entertaining. It's a perfect travel read for a trip to Columbia.
Saira Viola
Funny , honest and beautifully written . There is a poetic fluency in the narrative that is deceptively simple . A modern classic
If I were writing a story that involved cocaine smuggling in the 1970s, this book would be the perfect textbook: it's that detailed. How to design a smuggling operation, how to scale and implement it, how to weigh, evaluate, cut and resell cocaine, it is all covered in this book.

But the details don't stop there. No! You'll also learn about the best places to stay in Cartagena and Bogota, why no one goes to St Marta, and you'll meet a supporting cast of hundreds. Well, perhaps not hundreds, but...more
Snow Blind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade by Robert Sabbag is a fast-paced story that takes place in the early 1970s, during the peak of the cocaine trade. Through the eyes of smuggler Zachary Swan, Snowblind tells the partly biographical story of Swan’s intricate scams, successful maneuvers, and the actions and his relationships with his various associates, customers, and adversaries. By age 30 Swan, who is an ex- United States Marine born into an upper-class family in New York, is living...more
You'd expect a book about cocaine to be, if nothing else, exciting, and Snowblind is, occasionally, very exciting, but it's also a bitch to read. This was first published in 1976 and has not dated particularly well. The main reason why, and the book's biggest flaw, in my opinion, is the author's unabashed enthusiasm for the story (not the drug or the business) though it has to be said, an enthusiasm that is considerably more restraint than Howard Mark's excruciating introduction.
It is a great st...more
M.R. Dowsing
This is one of those rare things - a good true crime book! It's an eye-opening look at the cocaine trade, focusing on the career of near-genius smuggler "Zachary Swan" in the early 70s. The book is not without it's faults - Sabbag seems a bit too keen to defend Swan instead of allowing readers to draw their own conclusions - but it's very well-written, with an engagingly dry sense of humour. There are also some fascinating passages about the history of cocaine use. It seems that the reason the d...more
BikerDude Orellana
The writing was just too cute. It annoyed me.
Una de las mejores obras jamás escrita sobre el tráfico de drogas. Parece guión de película de
Scorsese. Seguramente Saviano sabía de este libro muy superior a Cero Cero Cero
When it was first published in the mid-seventies, SNOWBLIND established itself as an essential piece of true crime writing. The story of the legendary Zachary Swan, a mover in the cocaine trade in the sixties who set the standard for all who followed, Sabbag's riveting account is a compulsive insight into an underworld populated by crazy characters and riven by paranoia. The result is an illuminating and wild book that influenced a generation of writers.
I read this around the same time as I was conducting a big heroin importation trial and took inspiration from it to have my guy acquitted. It's a sort of biography of a drug trafficker and supremely well written. Enjoyed enormously, even if the poor sap whom it's about obviously had a poor lawyer and spent some time in jail.
Kevin Connor
Fascinating. Pretty much a go-to book if you're trying to get into the mindset of one of most sophisticated and successful (he never served time) drug smugglers to ever come out of the United States. Which I am totally not, obviously. Why would I ever dream of doing that? But just hypothetically speaking... ;)
Todd Janko
Too bad I was "snow blind" when I read this one back in the early 90's, joking. Anyway, I can't recall the whole theme of the book, but the title basically says it. If anything you can anything out of this novel, it's a nice read for dealers finding unique ways to smuggle product.
A very good well written book . It is also an interesting piece of American social history ; the cocaine trade before the cartels took over. I think it's the only banned book I've read. Some idiot politicians/journalists decided that it promoted drug use - what a load of crap.
Diego Munoz
Good read, but i lost momentum about half way through. Would be really interesting if you had interest in knowing more about the subject matter.

Had some really interesting chapters, but I wouldn't re-read it.

Dodgy dealings in the world of cocaine smuggling. Interesting if only to read about some of the unbelievable scams these guys got up to (and got away with). Intriguing, unsettling and a bit of a morality lesson.
Okay so a weird book for me to read, but I think this might be the book that the movie Blow is based off of. It has been awhile since I read it, but I remember I really liked it.
Fascinating book about a big-time cocaine dealer in the 1970s who came up with some ingenious schemes to get cocaine from Colombia to the US. I couldn't put it down!
Joe Davis
Fun read if one enjoys such erudite subjects such as the smuggling of cocaine and the associated cocaine trade in New York City circa the early 1970's.....
An entertaining account of early ‘70’s entrepreneur in the South American dancing powder trade…less “Scarface”, more a very talkative version of “The Sting”.
Kids, don't try this at home!
But if you want to get the adrenalin pumping via a vicarious contact high, I suppose I can't stop you.
i read this a really long time ago, it blew my mind before long before it was ever blown with actual blow, etc. etc. etc.
Kelly Cross
Jan 16, 2013 Kelly Cross added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lee Cochenour
Older paperback picked up at friend's yard sale. Keeps you interested from the very the very start! Exceptional!
A yummy, immensely readable story of middle class drugdealing--refreshingly nonjudgemental, too.
Paul Harris
Superb. Hilarious. Scary. A real page-turner. The 'Columbia Gold' coffee scam alone is priceless!
I read this book years ago. As far as books about the drug trade go this is one of the best.
An awesome book that details a few of the smuggling operations pulled off by Zachary Swan.
Patrick Briggs
Great writing (I'm already looking at author's other work), but story was lacking for me.
This is a great book, I was a customs officer at the time, smart and insightful.
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“There is nobody in the world, let alone at MIT or Lowell Tech, who is faster at math than a dope dealer.” 1 likes
“Most people don't know what they're blowing anyway -- they know what they've been buying. You offer them pure and they won't meet your price -- they say it's shit because it doesn't look like what they're used to. So you hit it with some borax and they pay your price. But that takes time. After you unload most of it at an honest price, then you can fuck around with what's left for the sucker trade.” 0 likes
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