By John Prendergast and Michael Mattock
“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
As a human rights activist, cofounder of the Enough Project, strategic advisor to Not On Our Watch, and the author of ten books on Africa, including his most recent, The Enough Moment, John Prendergast is known as a go-to man on human rights. Whether traveling to Africa with George Clooney, meeting President Obama about Sudan, or writing books with Don Cheadle, John is passionate about ending genocide and raising awareness about human rights issues in Africa.
But the not-so-public face of John Prendergast is the life he’s led as a Big Brother to Michael Mattocks. As a curious, driven, and emotionally wounded twenty-year-old, John 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 roaming 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, John formed a unique bond with Michael the moment they met. This bond would continue for more than twenty-five years as the two struggled with varying degrees of violence in their own lives. In UNLIKELY BROTHERS: Our Story of Adventure, Loss, and Redemption (Crown; May 17, 2011), John and Michael share their experiences, taking us on their personal journeys as their two lives intertwine.
Told in duet, UNLIKELY BROTHERS follows Michael as he grows up on the tough streets of Washington, D.C., where at twelve, he witnessed the shooting of his best friend, dropped out of school, and started dealing crack. By sixteen, Michael had become a kingpin of his block, guns and drugs always close at hand. Meanwhile, John was traveling back and forth from African war zones. From the time they met, Michael and John would go on outings together, whether it was fishing, playing basketball, patronizing cheap restaurants, or taking road trips to Philly. John offered Michael a breezy life away from the streets, but never really confronted the gravity of what Michael was going through in his adolescence.
As the years went by, the two swooped in and out of each other’s lives, but slowly disconnected as they disappeared into their respective worlds, reconnecting at a critical moment for both of them. Making their way back to each other to share their stories in this profound memoir, the effect the two have on each other is extremely significant to both their paths to redemption.
Inspirational and deeply moving, UNLIKELY BROTHERS beautifully showcases how life’s most random moments can often be the most profound.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
JOHN PRENDERGAST is a human rights activist and author. He is cofounder of the Enough Project (enoughproject.org), an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Working for the Clinton administration, he was directly involved in a number of peace processes in Africa. He helped create the satellite sentinel project with George Clooney, wrote two books with Don Cheadle, and developed documentary films on Congo with Ryan Gosling. He has appeared in four episodes of 60 Minutes and was featured in a New York Times Magazine profile titled “Attention-Grabber for Sudan’s Cause.” He has been a youth counselor, a basketball coach, and a Big Brother for more than twenty-five years.
MICHAEL MATTOCKS lived in homeless shelters as a child and began dealing drugs as a teenager. He is now a husband and father of five boys, working two jobs at once in order to support his family. He helps coach his sons on their football teams.
by John Prendergast and Michael Mattocks
Crown • May 17, 2011
Price: $24.00 hardcover • 272 pages • ISBN 978-0-307-46484-2