In many countries, “000” flour is the finest on the market. It is hard to find, but it is soft, light, almost impalpable—like the purest, highest quality grade of cocaine. ZeroZeroZero 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’s offers no such comfort. As heart racing as it is heady, ZeroZeroZero is a fusion of disparate genres into a brilliant new form that can rightly be called Savianoesque.
Interview with Roberto Saviano
“Taken as a whole, [ZeroZeroZero] is an angry rebuke to all those—traffickers and politicians alike—who perpetuate the violence….By reminding readers of the senseless suffering wrought by the cocaine trade, this book makes a powerful case for a new approach.”
“In articulating [his] cri de coeur, [Saviano] has developed a literary style that switches from vivid descriptions of human depravity to a philosophical consideration of the meaning of violence in the modern world. Indeed, when he revisits his work on Naples — the city where he was brought up and from which he is now excluded — his reflections soar into the realm of the poetic. But for me, most important of all is the hope Saviano gives to countless victims of criminal violence by standing up to its perpetrators, especially those from his home country.”
Booklist (starred review):
“With keen observation and deep probing, Saviano is an anthropologist and philosopher as much as a journalist. This is an epic account of how the modern cocaine trafficking business came to be and how widespread, how impenetrable, and how intertwined with international commerce and politics—and our everyday lives—it is.”
“This revealing new book, with a strong focus on Mexico’s cartels, surges with fast-moving prose detailing the lives of drug lords and pushers, the inner workings of their violent world, and how their lucrative business (between $25 billion and $50 billion annually) affects all our lives…. Saviano describes the complexities of money laundering, how world banks help make it possible, and the many ways in which drugs are smuggled: in paintings, handcrafted doors, frozen fish, and more. Throughout, the author provides vivid stories of the lives of well-known drug bosses and their minions. Saviano says he can no longer look at a beach or a map without seeing cocaine, and many will share that view after reading this dark, relentless, hyperreal report.”