Best Book of the Summer

After David Berg’s brother is murdered, he suffers a second death when an inept prosecutor and a corrupt defense lawyer combine to let the killer walk.

It’s going to take a heap of convincing to persuade me that the best book of the summer isn’t Run, Brother, Run, a memoir by Houston lawyer David Berg. It was my privilege to see this book before most people and to help the author work on it, but there are plenty of books I’ve worked on that I wouldn’t recommend to the author’s mom, let alone innocent strangers like yourselves.

Dave’s book, however, is the real deal. Part family story, part true crime, part courtroom drama, and all original, Dave tells the story of his upbringing in a loud dysfunctional family. It’s the story of Dave and his progress, of his loud, colorful, guilt-ridden father, and most of all the story of Alan, Dave’s instinctively noble, inescapably self-destructive older brother, who ended up murdered by a contract killer.

In Dave’s telling, Alan is the hero of Dave’s early life, the brave, sensible, reckless brother who keeps managing to show up at crisis points to punch an enemy, distract an adversary, or to offer a supporting hug—or shove. As they enter adulthood, however, the brothers’ lives diverge: Dave becomes a lawyer, and a good one; Alan is stuck in a rut, in a job he hates and a family to support, going nowhere. And then their stories diverge in the extreme, when Alan is viciously killed. He then suffers a second death when an inept prosecutor and a corrupt defense lawyer combine to let the killer walk.

Run, Brother, Run is Dave’s attempt to get justice for Alan, to acknowledge Alan’s role in Dave’s development, and to point fingers and name names at the men who failed Alan, and who destroyed him. The book is brave, funny, shrewd, profane, enormously intelligent, incredibly well-written, and very sad, a story full of insights that only a man who has known a great deal of life could bring out of himself. I’m very proud to have played a small role in its creation, and dammit, you ought to read it!

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Jamie Malanowski

Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.