Run, Brother, Run

A Memoir of a Murder in My Family

About The Book

A searing family memoir, hailed as “remarkable” (The New York Times), “compelling” (People), and “engrossing” (Kirkus Reviews), of a trial lawyer’s tempestuous boyhood in Texas that led to the vicious murder of his brother by the father of actor Woody Harrelson.

In 1968, David Berg’s brother, Alan, was murdered by Charles Harrelson, a notorious hit man and father of Woody Harrelson. Alan was only thirty-one when he disappeared (David was twenty-six) and for more than six months his family did not know what had happened to him—until his remains were found in a ditch in Texas. There was an eyewitness to the murder: Charles Harrelson’s girlfriend, who agreed to testify. For his defense, Harrelson hired Percy Foreman, then the most famous criminal lawyer in America. Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Harrelson was acquitted.

After burying his brother all those years ago, David Berg rarely talked about him. Yet in 2008 he began to remember and research Alan’s life and death. The result is Run, Brother, Run: part memoir—about growing up Jewish in 1950s Texas and Arkansas—and part legal story, informed by Berg’s experience as a seasoned lawyer. Writing with cold-eyed grief and a wild, lacerating humor, Berg tells us first about the striving Jewish family that created Alan Berg and set him on a course for self-destruction, and then about the miscarriage of justice when Berg’s murderer was acquitted.

David Berg brings us a painful family history, a portrait of an iconic American place, and a true-crime courtroom murder drama that “elegantly brings to life the rough-and-tumble boomtown that was 1960s-era Houston, and conveys with unflinching force the emotional damage his brother’s death did to his family” (The New York Times).

About The Author

David Berg has tried virtually every kind of civil and criminal case to a verdict, from murder to patent infringement, and he has won hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements. He has been recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in nine practice areas. His 2003 book, The Trial Lawyer: What It Takes to Win, is one of the American Bar Association’s bestselling books. In addition, David has published articles and essays in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Litigation Magazine and The Houston Chronicle. He lives in Houston and New York with his wife.

Raves and Reviews

"What is remarkable about the book, though, is Mr. Berg’s writing. He elegantly brings to life the rough-and-tumble boomtown that was 1960s-era Houston, and conveys with unflinching force the emotional damage his brother’s death did to his family."

– The New York Times

"Berg's story is compelling—and leaves you convinced that the truth did not prevail."

– People Magazine

This book has everything…The story is filled with the dusty small town criminal wheeling and dealings of a Grisham novel, and there’s plenty of courtroom drama. The book inhabits the worlds of Texas, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Hollywood. Berg knows how to keep an audience engrossed.”

– Guardian US, Best Memoir on the Summer Reads Awards

“Berg is a very fine writer — thorough, lucid and logical, but never dry. The emotional resonance and sheer vital force of this story extend far beyond its pages. It is the story of a bond so strong that his older brother's absence still wakes Berg up in the middle of the night.”

– Nashville Scene

"David Berg has written a book that makes me think I’d like to be friends with him. No book that I’ve encountered so far this year has a voice that is as assured and entertaining as Berg’s in this uncanny, addictive memoir."

– Claiborne Smith, features editor, Kirkus

"A richly textured book that rises above the average true crime."

– San Francisco Chronicle

“Having interviewed surviving witnesses, lawyers, and family, he reconstructs the short life of his reckless brother and tells about his own coming-of-age in a brutally frank family memoir that will attract readers of true crime”

– Book List

"Berg writes with brio, vividly sketching the roughhouse atmosphere of oil-boom Houston in the 1960s, and the obstacles that faced a pair of liberal, Jewish brothers in the segregated South. While he is often funny, and rarely politically correct, Berg also delivers a complex take on family dynamics and the ways in which intelligent people can be deceived."

– Publisher’s Weekly

"An engrossing family history and an appealingly salacious tale, related in a bemused tone that does not hide the social ugliness and personal heartbreak underneath."

– Kirkus

"Run, Brother, Run is a fascinating look at a Texas family's history, written in darkly humorous, direct and powerful prose. Trial lawyers are known for being smooth talkers, but Berg proves himself a graceful writer as well."

– MSN Page-turner

“We are in Mary Karr memoir territory here, in Texas no less, with parents behaving badly and children behaving even worse. David Berg's superb tale of his brother's shocking murder is true crime at its most intimate, and most personal.”

– S. C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon

“Run, Brother, Run is a home run for David Berg and his readers. Part memoir, part mystery, it's all of a piece—a true story of Houston that's impossible to put down.”

– Mimi Swartz, author of Power Failure

"David Berg has written a funny and haunting memoir of a very particular family in a very particular place and time. It is also a universally American story of hope in the face of defeat. Suffused with a tragic sense of humor and deep pathos, one can't help but think of Willy Loman with a Texas twang when reading Run, Brother, Run."

– Jon Meacham

"Searing, funny, heartbreaking—and true. Berg’s tale of a brother’s murder, miscarried justice, and savage Texas suburban family life kept me riveted from the first page.”

– Marie Brenner, author of Apples and Oranges

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