David Berg Returns to Brazos with His True Tale of Law and Order

Article by ben

Halfway through RUN, BROTHER, RUN, author (and Houston attorney) David Berg’s brother winds up in a ditch near Galveston, the victim of a murder. The year is 1968, and sad though the murder is, it’s not exactly a surprise to the family: Alan Berg owed money to dangerous people all over Houston and had been missing for six months.

By mentioning this plot point, I am not giving anything away: Berg reveals his brother’s fate in the book’s introduction—and besides, since the entire story hinges upon the murder, nearly everything written about the book discusses this “spoiler.” But the mysteries still abound: How did Alan—the author’s troubled brother—die? Who pulled the trigger? What happened at the trial? Was justice done? Berg answers all of these questions with a great lawyer’s gift for clarity and narrative; there’s nothing tricky about the way he tells his story, presenting the events in chronological order, thus allowing the reader to be present, almost in real-time, for the murder trial’s most disturbing twists. At the same time, Berg winds up recording an alternate history of Houston, told in the seediest bars and nightclubs of the city’s old “Sin Alley.”

But how has all of this affected David Berg himself?

Ultimately, this is why mentioning details of the case doesn’t really function as a “spoiler”: because the power of RUN, BROTHER, RUN comes not from its true crime elements; rather, the power comes from the memoir’s portrait of a family torn apart—by violence, yes, but also by years of leaving matters unspoken. Berg’s gifts are apparent in how well he establishes the dynamic of his family—especially his close but difficult relationship with Alan. When his brother was around, Berg writes, “it felt as though a limb I hadn’t realized was missing had been sewn back on. When he left, I felt pain as profound as if it had been ripped off again.”

Alan led a troubled life, which Berg watched with dread. In this sense, RUN, BROTHER, RUN feels urgent and powerful. Now, writing about the murder nearly forty years later, Berg seems to view it as an opportunity to, if not change history, at least correct it.

For years, Berg has wished he could’ve saved his brother. Now, with RUN, BROTHER RUN, he gets his chance.

David Berg signs the paperback release of RUN, BROTHER, RUN on Monday, June 30 at 7PM

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