Unlikely Brothers: Book summary and reviews of Unlikely Brothers by John Prendergast

Unlikely Brothers

Our Story of Adventure, Loss, and Redemption

by John Prendergast

Unlikely Brothers by John Prendergast X
Unlikely Brothers by John Prendergast
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  • Published in USA  May 2011
    272 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

"You don't look like brothers..."

Peace activist and cofounder of the Enough Project, John Prendergast is known as a champion of human rights in Africa. 

But the not-so-public face of J.P. is the life he's led as a Big Brother to Michael Mattocks. As a curious, driven, and emotionally wounded twenty-year-old, J.P. made the life-changing decision to form a "Big Brother/Little Brother" relationship with then seven-year-old Michael, who was living out of plastic bags and drifting from one homeless shelter to the next with his mother and siblings. Lacking a connection with his own brother and distancing himself from a disastrous relationship with his father, J.P. formed a unique bond with Michael the moment they met. Michael and J.P. became like family, with Michael and some of his siblings even living with J.P. one summer. In the years that followed, J.P. took Michael and his brothers on outings, whether it was fishing, playing basketball, patronizing cheap restaurants, or going on road trips. This friendship would continue for over twenty-five years as the two coped with varying degrees of violence, instability, and trauma in their own lives. 
 
Told in duet, Unlikely Brothers follows Michael as he grows up on the tough streets of Washington, D.C., where as a young teenager he watched his best friend get shot, dropped out of school, and started dealing crack cocaine shortly thereafter. By sixteen, Michael had become the kingpin of his neighborhood, guns and drugs always close at hand. Meanwhile, J.P. was traveling to and from African war zones. J.P. offered Michael a refuge from the streets, never really confronting the gravity of what Michael was going through in his adolescence. In turn, Michael afforded J.P. an escape from his own turbulent personal and professional life.

As the years go by, the two swoop in and out of each other's lives, slowly disconnecting as they disappear into their respective worlds, but making their way back to each other at a critical moment for both of them. The effect the two have on each other is extremely significant to both of their paths to redemption.

Inspirational and deeply moving, Unlikely Brothers beautifully showcases how life's most random moments can often be the most profound.  

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A fascinating account of a long-standing friendship." - Publishers Weekly

"A book like Unlikely Brothers could have been a slog. It could have been gauzy and preachy. But what John and Michael have pulled off is something as unlikely as their brotherhood - a memoir wonderfully raw and vivid that manages to tell us something new about poverty and struggle and humility and hope. You'll read this in one sitting." - Dave Eggers, author of Zeitoun and What Is the What

"Read this book, and learn more about our common humanity like I did. This inspiring story will touch your heart and have you believing we are our brother's keeper all over again." - Wes Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore

"This is no ordinary memoir. It is an inspiring, important and utterly unforgettable saga. Every American should read it and any who do will be moved--moved to change and moved to act. John and Michael have opened up their innards, probing their friendship, their adventures, their disappointments and their demons so as to light a spark in all of us." - Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Problem from Hell

"Unlikely Brothers is an unlikely book, two interweaving stories filled with loss, tenderness and hope. John Prendergast's and Michael Mattocks' journeys - together and apart - should resonate for all of us, a searching for our place in the world, a yearning for friendship and connections." - Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City So Real

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Reader Reviews

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stacy

stacy.rosen@mac.com
I Absolutely loved this book. The story begins with two men worlds apart however they have a lot in common. I read it in three days and let a friend borrow it and she read it in three days. Hard to believe the author had difficulty getting it published. The ending is so positive and really makes you think about the book several times after finishing it. It is one of the best books I have ever read.

(Book browse recommended it too!)

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Author Information

John Prendergast Author Biography

John Prendergast is Senior Advisor to the International Crisis Group and Co-Founder of the ENOUGH Campaign (www.enoughproject.org). Previously Prendergast worked at the White House and State Department during the Clinton administration, where he was involved in a number of peace processes throughout Africa. John has also worked for members of Congress, the United Nations, human rights organizations, and think tanks. He has authored several books on Africa, including Not on Our Watch, which he co-authored with actor/activist Don Cheadle. Prendergast travels regularly to Africa’s war zones on fact-finding missions, peace-making initiatives, and awareness-raising trips involving network news programs, celebrities, and politicians.

Link to John Prendergast's Website

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