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Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  469 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
From a renowned trial lawyer, a searing family memoir of a wild boyhood in Texas that led to the vicious murder of the author’s brother by actor Woody Harrelson’s father.

A searing family memoir of a tempestuous Texas boyhood that led to the vicious murder of the author’s brother As William Faulkner said, “The past is not dead, it’s not even past.” This observation seems es
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Scribner
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This book was a Goodreads First-reads giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, the author, and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review Run, Brother, Run.

The prologue was well composed and drew this reader into the book with the expectation of a well-told story. However, after enduring 140 pages, these are the impressions left on the reader:

My brother was a crook who was killed.

I idolized my brother.

My father was a crook.

My mother was crazy and abusive.

Enough about all of them, let me tell
Angela Lynn
Jun 12, 2013 Angela Lynn rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I decided to read this book because it is described as a memoir of a murder in the author's family. I am a huge fan of the true crime genre. Unfortunately, this was not the suspenseful, murder mystery I expected.

The author spends the first part the book describing his family, his terrible parents, sister, and other irrelevant family members. The father is the only relative that is relevant to the story, all of the other introductions are a waste of time.

Finally, we get to the brother's murder.
Sheryl Sorrentino
Jul 15, 2013 Sheryl Sorrentino rated it liked it
A murder in any family is “tell-worthy,” so you would think the story of someone’s brother being murdered would be especially so. Alan Berg’s disappearance and murder were indeed gut-wrenching to read about. However, while Run Brother, Run starts off tender and funny and engaging—full of quirky characters and ethnic “heart,” as it were, what promises at the outset to be an intimate “tell” of one family’s tragedy quickly devolves into something tedious and lackluster, spiraling into an Enquirer-e ...more
Jan 21, 2013 Caitlin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I had high hopes for Run, Brother, Run - it has all the elements that would make a great story - but I just didn't find it terribly satisfying. Mr. Berg tackles a difficult thing - the murder of his brother at the hands of a killer that went free in a miscarriage of justice. It is not an easy tale, but I believe it deserves a better telling than this one.

Run, Brother, Run is at its best when Mr. Berg focuses on his family, his brother, all the ways his family and the events of his brother's murd
Paul Pessolano
May 13, 2013 Paul Pessolano rated it liked it
“Run, Brother, Run” by David Berg, published by Scribner.

Category – Memoir Publication Date - June 11, 2013

If you want to read a book where just about everyone in the book is a liar, cheater, murderer, or conman (this includes judges, lawyers and police), this is your read, and to top it off it is a true story.
The book is made even more intriguing when you know that the accused murderer is Charles Harrelson, the father of Woody Harrelson who starred in the TV series “Cheers” and several movies
Darian G.
Mar 15, 2013 Darian G. rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
This book had all the components fro a great read. Drama, murder, mystery, even celebrity in that Woody Haralson’s father was the murderer and David Berg is a nationally known lawyer and democrat political supporter. I hate to say I didn’t like the book because it wasn’t a terrible book. It just could have been so much better.

As I have thought about it, the main problem with the book is that there are not any likable characters. No one you get invested. The author is by far the only character th
Jul 19, 2013 Kate rated it it was amazing
I cannot begn to imagine how one processes the grief of losing a family member, espeically by murder, enough to write a coherent book about it. Indeed, it took David Berg decades to reach the point where he both wanted and was able to write this memoir. He did a great, rich job. The book starts with a beg for the reader's speculation: could you condone defense of a woman on trial for the brutal murder and chainsaw dismemberment of her husband, to which she fully admits? No? Berg was the defense ...more
Aug 13, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it
Murder. Family secrets. Hired guns. The poor kid who wants to be a doctor. True-crime tale. Growing up Jewish in Houston in the 1950s and 60s. This was one of the fastest reads ever—-probably because I kept pulling it out and reading at times and places I normally would not.

For me, it was kismet, or at least serendipity. I heard the author speak once while I was a law student at his alma mater, the University of Houston. I bought the book at the River Oaks Bookstore, a place I'd never seen but t
Aug 18, 2015 Kw rated it really liked it
This sad, sometimes sordid story took place right here in my town. I barely remember it, but this book certainly filled In any blanks. This family lost so much, for no good reason. Not only was there murder, but their finances were stolen and/or extorted from them on several occasions. They were also mistreated because of prejudice and arrogance, and I'm glad this author has risen above his beginnings.
An interesting look at the infamous Percy Foreman and his "lawyerly manipulations," at '60s Hou
Karen Conner
Interesting- a lot of lawyerly talk. In some ways it made me mad to see how lawyers break the law just to win, but it was also interesting to see it through a lawyer's eyes.
Jan 27, 2017 Roger rated it liked it
Pretty captivating read about a murder committed by Woody Harrelson's father and how he escaped being convicted for it. Certainly shows how corrupt the Texas law system was at the time. It wouldn't surprise me if lawyers use these tactics today. Not such a trustworthy lot.
Jul 18, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing
One of the best memoirs I've read, Run, Brother Run, takes its place among a canon of heartbreaking, gorgeously written memoirs of family in all its brokenness and imperfect love.

In 1968, author David Berg's older brother, Alan, went out to a bar and never came back. For six tortured weeks his family tried to find him. Eventually his body was discovered and the investigation into his murder began, ending with the arrest and trial of a man who coldly performed the the killing for $1,500, which he
Russell Sanders
Dec 26, 2015 Russell Sanders rated it really liked it
A screenwriter would look at David Berg’s Run, Brother, Run and immediately cut out the first seventy pages or so, relegating the information contained in them to brief flashbacks and memories. And that would be wise. Berg’s memoir of his brother’s murder is a very cinematic tale. I would relish seeing a film made of the book. But, alas, this is a book, not a movie, and it is a memoir, so I suppose the early days of Berg’s and his brother’s life are relevant and need to be told, no matter how mu ...more
Joanie Sompayrac
Oct 02, 2015 Joanie Sompayrac rated it it was amazing
David Berg is an attorney, and his older brother was murdered almost 50 years ago. Berg wrote this memoir as a way to reveal to the world (including his own kids) the brother he had largely kept hidden for decades. This book attempts to look at how their father's life and mistakes set the course for the brothers' lives with one brother learning lessons from the father's transgressions and the other seeming to follow in his footsteps. At times, both brothers seemed doomed to live lives as flawed ...more
Jun 19, 2013 Licha rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, true-crime
I gave this book three stars based mostly on the first part of the book, which dealt with introducing Alan Berg, the author's brother, who was murdered by Charles Harrelson, who was a hitman and father of actor Woody Harrelson. The author did a good job of portraying his brother, a likable person, even if sometimes he was on the shady side of the law, mostly for gambling.

Once it got to the second part dealing with the legal stuff, the story just lost me, both in interest and in trying to keep so
Kathleen Hagen
Run Brother Run: a memoir of a murder in my Own Family, by David Berg, Narrated by Geoffrey Alan Berg, Produced by Brilliance Audio, Downloaded from

This is the memoir of David Berg, a famous defense lawyer in Texas, and the murder that shaped his entire family. His older brother Allan, who was supposed to become a doctor because his father failed to get out of medical school, is first praised and then totally reviled by his father and his mother. This led Allan on a life-long downwa
Aug 30, 2013 Tyler rated it really liked it
Really a ***1/2 star book. Definately better than average. It's a memoir/true crime styled book. The author and his titular brother lived in a dysfunctional home so it's no surprise his brother was a little nutty. He's one of these guys that can talk there way into and out of anything, superhuman levels of charisma but also dangerously impulsive. He also had some terrible aquaintneces. I want to meet someone like that one day just to know what they are like to be around. The few people like this ...more
Syd Polk
I enjoyed this book tremendously. This true life murder mystery is a picture of my hometown, Houston, that I never knew; the steamy, crime-ridden underbelly. The rampant racism, sexism and anti-semitism that pervades late-60's Texas is palpable. The only person who manages to make and honest living in this book is the author, but he is haunted by the demons of his murdered brother and his broken family.

The entire experience of reading this book made me feel both very alive and very sullied. Ther
Aug 31, 2013 Richard rated it it was ok
I would probably give this a "2.5 stars" and I didn't it was that worthy of 3 stars. Interesting story of the author's family and their 'problems' within the family dynamics. Infidelity, divorce, betrayal, etc. I just don't know how this family wound up associating with so many losers in TX ? Sheer coincidence or just associating with the 'wrong people'. It would be the latter and not the former. I mean, when you have a bookie and gamble high stakes, one is apt to fall into the wrong side of the ...more
Sandy G
Jun 13, 2013 Sandy G rated it it was amazing
Poignant, heartfelt and honest, this is a book about love, family, grief, and shame. As an attorney, I
seldom choose or enjoy "lawyer" books. But, this is not a "lawyer" book. It is a riveting memoir about love, loss, family, and tragedy. The author opens himself up and writes about very painful events without self pity. There are also elements of humor. The book is well-written and not overwrought. I applaud the author for opening himself to the public. It could not have been easy. The book was
May 08, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: death, texas
the publisher describes the book as "raw, furious, bawdy and scathing."

perfect, those words tell you if you'll like this.

david berg's family is screwed up, his brother's murder just adds being screwed over to the mix. (this isn't about the denver radio jock that was murdered, this is about one of many murders done by woody harrelson's father.) it isn't a fun book to read, but berg is a wonderful storyteller. and he does something in a true-crime book i've always wanted to read, he shows what He
Richard Maddox
Jan 12, 2014 Richard Maddox rated it it was amazing
If you're from Houston and interested in its past, I think you'll find this memoir hard to put down. David Berg's description of life in Houston - particularly its seedier side in the 1960s - is in itself reason enough to pick this book up. However, there is so much more to this impressive piece of writing. It amazes me the ground Berg covers in what is not a lengthy book. His talent is obvious, and the story he tells of his brother's short life and senseless death will leave you reflecting for ...more
Nov 24, 2013 Erik rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of books. Some I get out of the library specifically because I like the subject matter, and some I see while browsing the shelves that pique my interest in some way. This is one of the latter; I had never heard of it before and didn't have a particular interest in this. But it was well-written and well-thought-out. It's not "writerly" and it isn't about anything else; it's just about what it's about. That's fine, sometimes. It didn't change my life, but I really enjoyed my time goin ...more
Sep 03, 2013 Megan rated it liked it
This was a pretty good memoir that gets a bit dragged down in "lawyerese". Berg is a good writer. He comes across as a very intelligent person so it is easy to believe he had such success as a lawyer. The first half of the book was very interesting to me. He mixes stories of his early caareer and his family in a way that captured my interest. The last half of the booklet me down a little, though I can't really put me finger on why exactly. All in all, this book really brings home the importance ...more
I did like this book, really - I just can't quite figure enough to tell you why. The parents are jerks, the brothers are both jerks (the one who's murdered - over a business rivalry? over his gambling problem? - and the lawyer who survives to tell the tale).
It's got to be the voice, then, hasn't it? Even if David Berg doesn't come across as entirely sympathetic in his own dang narrative, he's at least a good storyteller.

ps - Did you know Woody Harrelson's father was a hitman? I won't spoil any
I found this book on a "Best of 2013" list -- but, I have to disagree. The first half of the book is a fascinating story of two brothers and their tumultuous childhood. Loved it. The second half of the book is about the events leading up to one of the brother's murder and the courtroom drama. I admit, I did some heavy skimming during some of this. Yawn Yawn. Nonetheless, overall, the author does an excellent job of narrating his life and trying to find HIS truth.
Conclusion: Dysfunctional Memoir
Jul 29, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, true-crime
An excellent memoir which brought back memories of Texas in the '60s. I grew up not far from Houston, and remember very well when Charles "Chuck" Harrelson, father of the actor Woody Harrelson, was arrested for the murder of a federal judge in San Antonio. The Chuck Harrelson also stood trial for the murder of Alan Berg. The portrayals of Percy Foreman and "Racehorse" Haynes, two famous defense attorneys from that era were also interesting.
Karen & Gerard
Run, Brother, Run--A Memoir of a Murder in My Family by David Berg talks about the killing of his brother, Alan, and then the trial of the person held responsible for the killing. For the most part, this book was very interesting. I enjoyed learning about what led up to the killing and the life Alan and David led together along with their dad. The trial was interesting too. I give it 4 stars.
(Gerard's review)
Jul 14, 2016 Smudge rated it liked it
Interesting but somehow incredibly mundane. In a way this is a good thing, bringing home the fact that despite the disparity between the Bergs (Jewish Texans who own a sometimes sleazy upholstery warehouse) and the reader, that this is a fact of life. People die in terrible ways and it's just how it is. Unfortunately you probably don't want your true crime books to be describable as "mundane", so there you have it.
Sep 03, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
More than the details of a crime, Run, Brother, Run is one man's family history. Attorney David Berg follows the advice he would give any of his young lawyer; humanize your client. The details surrounding his brother's murder are murky, but it is the story of a Jewish boy/family in Arkansas and Texas that pull you along. I'm also intrigued with his recounts of criminal trials and dealings with Jimmy Carter.
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