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Review: The Accountant’s Story

April 17, 2009


After their family lost their farm, Pablo and Roberto Escobar grew up poor in Medellin, Colombia.  Pablo always vowed that he would be a millionaire by the time he was 22 and that he would take care of his mother and buy her anything she wanted.  He started making his money by selling contraband items and when got caught at that, he moved on to drugs.

In the meantime, Roberto earned two college degrees – one in Electrical Engineering and one in Accounting – and was successful as a bicycle racer.  He coached the national team and manufactured and sold bicycles.

Pablo’s drug business turned to cocaine and he decided to introduce it to the U. S. market.  It quickly became the drug of choice for the elite and wealthy and Pablo couldn’t smuggle in enough of it.  He began making an enormous profit because he was involved in every step of the process from the manufacture to the sale of the drugs.  (At one time Forbes magazine named Pablo the 7th richest man in the world and estimated his wealth at 25 billion dollars.) Pablo called on his brother, Roberto, to help him launder the money.  Roberto said there was so much money coming in, it was a challenge to find places to store it.  At one time, they were spending 2500 dollars a month on rubber bands to wrap the cash in.  They were enjoying the money they were making – living in luxury and traveling.

Pablo was able to convince most people that he made his fortune in real estate until he decided to run for political office.   He was behind the assassination of a Presidential candidate and several members of the Colombian Supreme Court.  His crimes were becoming too big to go unnoticed.  Pablo was now on the radar of the police and Army.  With pressure from the U. S. government, Columbia started investigating the Medellin cartel’s business.

Pablo and Roberto were allowed to turn themselves in and lived in a luxurious prison that they had built.  Fearing that they were going to be murdered in the prison, they escaped and Colombia became a war zone for the Medellin cartel, the Cali cartel and the Army.  Roberto was imprisoned and Pablo was eventually found and killed.  A letter bomb in the prison left Roberto blind.  He has had several surgeries and today, he lives on a ranch outside of Medellin and continues to recover from his wounds.

The Accountant’s Story is the story of the Medellin cartel from Roberto Escobar’s point of view.  I listened to the audio version of this, which is very well read by Ruben Diaz.  Parts of this story are fascinating – I was amazed at how smart these men were – they even had submarines built to smuggle the cocaine in – but parts of it are repulsive.  At one point Roberto said he shouldn’t have been arrested because he hadn’t done anything wrong, yet he laundered billions of dollars.  Pablo gave money to the poor – buying houses, paying medical expenses, putting people through school, etc.  –  and I felt like the book implied that excused all the death and destruction he caused.  I do realize that he wouldn’t have earned all of that money if people hadn’t been willing to buy his product, but that does not justify his actions.  I think anyone who likes true crime stories will enjoy this book.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2009 7:30 am

    Holy cow! Am I really the first commenter? 🙂 Anyway, this sounds like a really intense read–Pablo Escabar is a name that isn’t easily ignored.

  2. April 17, 2009 8:28 am

    I must read “The Accountant’s Story.” Your review is magnificent. I hope my library owns this one. Thanks.

  3. April 17, 2009 8:34 am

    Great review. I’m not big on true crime, but this one looks worth the read or listen.

  4. April 17, 2009 9:01 am

    I’m still waiting for this one. Can’t wait.

  5. April 17, 2009 10:58 am

    That sounds like an intense novel . I am not usually into books revolving around underworld activities. But your review has made me want to read this one!

    Thanks for yet another amazing review!

  6. April 17, 2009 11:03 am

    Wow…this sounds like a book that would spark many conflicting emotions for me. Thanks for the great review Kathy!

  7. April 17, 2009 11:05 am

    This book sounds intense. Great review.

  8. April 17, 2009 11:05 am

    I think that I too would be repulsed by the things they did but yet fascinated by how they went from severe poverty to becoming billionaires. Good review.

  9. April 17, 2009 11:28 am

    Great review Kathy. This does sound like an intense read but it sounds like something I may like more in movie form.

  10. Carol permalink
    April 17, 2009 12:12 pm

    I had seen this around, but hadn’t really given it much thought. It sounds fascinating, though, thanks for the review.

  11. April 17, 2009 1:11 pm

    Wow! Sounds pretty intense. I’ll have to read this one.

  12. April 17, 2009 2:22 pm

    I hadn’t heard of this book, and when I saw the title, I certainly wasn’t expecting a story about drugs and money laundering. It sounds interesting.

  13. April 17, 2009 2:32 pm

    Great review! I’ve watched tv shows about Pablo – what a scary man. A movie that depicted him as vicious was ‘Blow’ with Johnny Depp.

  14. April 17, 2009 5:16 pm

    Nice review. I’m not big on true crime either, but this one definitely sounds interesting.

  15. April 17, 2009 7:39 pm

    I’m recommending this one to my aunt. She loves true crime and this sounds like a great book.

  16. April 17, 2009 7:42 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting read. Fascinating how they could start life on the straight and narrow and then turn to crime. Power can be as intoxicating as much as drugs I suppose.

  17. April 17, 2009 8:47 pm

    Sounds like a good one!

  18. April 17, 2009 9:58 pm

    Great review! This sounds riveting … if it was fiction, we probably wouldn’t have bought such a story. Sad that is it real-life but it sounds somewhat fascinating.

  19. April 17, 2009 10:58 pm

    I’m intrigued. I loved Nicholas Pileggi’s “Wiseguy,” so this sounds like a book I’d enjoy. Nice review!

  20. April 18, 2009 12:57 am

    I have to say that I think my son would love this! Me too probably…I too would like the audio. Thank you for this review. I NOW need to read/hear another book.

  21. April 21, 2009 4:22 pm

    Wow! I enjoy movies like this… I wonder why it never occured to me to try a book?

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