Rob Maynard's Reviews > The Accountant's Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellín Cartel

The Accountant's Story by Roberto Escobar Gaviria
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Jan 14, 2012

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Escobar's book is one of the strangest I've read, simultaneously acknowledging the damage done in Columbia by his brother's work while at the same time defending his brother's right to be the king of cocaine and a hero to many to this very day in his homeland. Roberto Escobar had a job and a life on the 'legit' side of things before he became his brother's money man. It's fascinating to read his disillusionment when he realizes that joining the cocaine business and hiding billions of dollars for his brother makes him just as much a criminal. The book alternates between Escobar's confusion over why his government has forsaken his family for the sake of the U.S. drug crackdown, and fascinating tidbits about Pablo Escobar's life, family, and later years on the run.

In a business that was netting billions of dollars cash annually, Roberto Escobar was writing off 10 percent each year due to money that was eaten by rats or ruined by mold and mildew. The story of Escobar's final years has been aptly told by Mark Bowden in Killing Pablo. But Roberto Escobar was on the inside, and this look at how the Escobar family lived on the run, often in plain sight, Pablo riding around in taxicabs cutting deals on cell phones up until the violent end, is fascinating.

Escobar ended up in jail, then blinded and disfigured by a letter bomb sent by an enemy cartel. Today he's out of jail, living on a ranch somewhere in Columbia, effectively retired from the cartel and likely living comfortably on some amount of the money he managed to hide.

If you did any cocaine during the 1980s you helped pay for it all. Escobar correctly points out that all the war against the Columbian cartels accomplished was to move the business to Mexico. No one quit using cocaine, and we're now fighting the same senseless war on our own border. Escobar's point is that cocaine was good for the Columbian economy and never was Columbia's problem, that his brother was a charismatic leader that could have been president some day. His blind eye is a literal and figurative challenge to mainstream American assumptions. A very strange, but instructive read for anyone interested in how the War On Drugs came to be permanent.
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Started Reading
January 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
January 14, 2012 – Shelved

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message 1: by LeeAnn (new)

LeeAnn W. Nice review. Roberto Escobar is in Medellin (or around there). He gives tours to where his brother was killed, buried, etc. I didn't go on the tour but met people who did. Apparently, the money raised goes to charity. As far as drugs not being a problem in Colombia, that is false. There are drug addicts there too.

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