This is the story of the most successful cocaine dealers in the world: Pablo Escobar Gaviria, Jorge Luis Ochoa Vasquez, Carlos Lehder Rivas and Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha. In the 1980s they controlled more than fifty percent of the cocaine flowing into the United States. The cocaine trade is capitalism on overdrive — supply meeting demand on exponential levels. Here you'll find the story of how the modern cocaine business started and how it turned a rag tag group of hippies and sociopaths into regal kings as they stumbled from small-time suitcase smuggling to levels of unimaginable sophistication and daring. The $2 billion dollar system eventually became so complex that it required the manipulation of world leaders, corruption of revolutionary movements and the worst kind of violence to protect.

Guy Gugliotta is a former national reporter for The Washington Post and foreign correspondent for The Miami Herald. He is currently based in New York, where he writes about science, history and Latin America for magazines and newspapers, among them Smithsonian, Wired, Discover and The New York Times. He is the author of the forthcoming Freedom’s Cap, the Building of the U.S. Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War, to be published in early 2012 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Jeff Leen is the investigations editor for The Washington Post. As a reporter or an editor, he has worked on investigations have have been honored with seven Pulitzer Prizes. He is also the author of The Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds and the Making of an American Legend.