In many countries, “00” or double zero flour is the finest, best flour on the market. Among narco-traffickers, then, “zero zero zero” is the nickname for the very purest, highest quality grade of cocaine. It is also the title of Roberto Saviano’s unforgettable, internationally bestselling exploration of the inner workings of the global cocaine trade—its rules and armies—and the true depth of its reach into the world economy and, by extension, its grasp on us all.
Gomorrah, Saviano’s explosive account of the Neapolitan mob, the Camorra, was a worldwide publishing sensation. It struck such a nerve with the Camorra that Saviano has had to live under 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, Saviano 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 complicity of the world’s biggest banks.
The result is a truly harrowing and groundbreaking synthesis of intimate literary narrative and geopolitical analysis of 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, first with the Italian crime syndicates, then with the Russians, Africans, and others. On the one hand, he charts a remarkable increase in sophistication as these criminal entities diversify into many other products and markets. On the other, he reveals the astonishing increase in the severity of violence as they have fought to protect and extend their power.
Saviano is a writer and journalist of rare courage and a thinker of impressive intellectual depth, able to see the connections between farflung phenomena and bind them into a single epic story. Most drug-war narratives feel safely removed from our own lives; Saviano offers no such comfort. As heart racing as it is heady, Zero Zero Zero is a fusion of disparate genres into a brilliant new form that can rightly be called Savianoesque.