A True Story of the Murder that Rocked New Orleans
A charismatic young soldier meets a tragic end in this moving and mesmerizing account of the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and no-safety-net America.
SHAKE THE DEVIL OFF NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2009 BY THE WASHINGTON POST. READ THE LIST HERE.
"Ethan Brown examines a notorious murder case, rescues it from the talons of tabloid journalists, and comes up with something much more than a true crime book. Shake the Devil Off is a gripping suspense story, an indictment of the military’s treatment of our soldiers in and out of war, and a celebration of the resilience and worth of a great American city."—George Pelecanos, New York Times bestselling author of The Turnaround and Hell to Pay
"Looking more deeply at that from which the rest of us turned in horror, Ethan Brown has transformed an ugly and disturbing shard of the post-Katrina anguish. In this book, that which was lurid and sensational becomes, chapter by chapter, something genuinely sad and reflective, something that now has true meaning for New Orleans and for all of us."—David Simon, author of Homicide and The Corner
"Ethan Brown establishes himself as a prodigious reporter and masterful storyteller in Shake the Devil Off, a chilling portrait of a broken hero failed by the system."—Evan Wright, author of the New York Times bestseller Generation Kill
"A ‘coming home’ story that rivals any written about veterans of the war in Iraq, and a true crime account that raises the bar for the genre. Measured, thoroughly reported, and written with true empathy."—Nate Blakeslee, author of Tulia
"Every military general and every VA leader should carefully read this book to understand how hubris and incompetence in government often leads to massive pain, suffering, and preventable death. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should put Shake the Devil Off at the top of their reading list as a superbly written account of how everything could and did go wrong for a soldier and his family during and after war.”—Paul Sullivan, Executive Director of Veterans for Common Sense
"Heartbreaking."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Drawing the parallel between Katrina's aftermath and Bowen's unraveling psyche, Brown creates a riveting portrait of a gruesome crime while detailing the heart of a city in distress. A grim murder-suicide story delivered with skill and verve."—Kirkus
"A nicely crafted shocker."—Booklist
"A powerful indictment of our ineffective political establishment and seemingly unfeeling military bureacracy...Shake the Devil Off is essential reading for those willing to face the awful truths about New Orleans—our nation's most misunderstood city—and the trials its residents still face every day."—The Washington Post
"Ultimately, the value of this provocative...book lies in its careful examination of a tragic crime; the author has also made a significant contribution to the literature about the Iraq war. Shake the Devil Off can best be read as a follow-up to Dexter Filkins's perfect book, The Forever War. If Filkins taught us about the war over there, Brown has brought the war home, and for that he deserves much credit."—The New York Times
"Editors' Choice"—The New York Times Book Review, September 20, 2009. The "Editors' Choice" list can be read here.
"Critics' Pick"—The Washington Post. The "Critics' Pick" List for the week ending September 27, 2009 can be read here.
"A shattering portrait of a city on a violent edge."
—The New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Gripping and honest."—Amy Wilentz, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
"Journalist Ethan Brown delves straight into the darkness with Shake the Devil Off. Billed by the publisher as a true crime story, it is that—and more...Brown has given us a unique portrait of tenacious New Orleans, pre and post Katrina, and a reflective—though utterly chilling—account of how veterans of the Iraq war are suffering from mental degredation and a lack of support."
"[Shake the Devil off] won't let us forget about our veterans and about New Orleans."—The Dallas Morning News
"Ethan Brown has done a great job bringing this pitiless story into a readable form."—The Globe and Mail
"Where many saw only a lurid murder story, Brown looked deep into the heart and mind of this troubled killer. What emerges is a picture of a specific place and a specific person that holds universal implications for the psychological state of an entire generation of soldiers and survivors."—The Rumpus
"Brown...delves into the lives of Bowen and Hall, their relationship with each other, New Orleans, and the unique little world of the French Quarter—almost another character in the book. Brown clearly is fascinated by our little corner of the world. He also demonstrates a deep understanding about how New Orleans is...Brown speculates over why Bowen 'snapped,' offering severe, untreated PTSD as a possible explanation...But Brown goes further and does a lot of investigative work about PTSD, its effects on young military men returning from battle, and how the U.S. government has not addressed the problems these soldiers face when they return home. While the crime was horrifying, our government’s failure to address the mental issues that precipitate from serving in battle are even more so. Two young lives were lost in a terrible way, he contends, but many others were affected by the crime and the PTSD that may have precipitated it. And Shake the Devil Off shows that there could be more Bowens and Halls all over the U.S. if the problem isn’t addressed."
Shake the Devil Off now in paperback. Purchase the book here.
Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler
Based on police wiretaps and exclusive interviews with drug kingpins and hip-hop insiders, this is the untold story of how the streets and housing projects of southeast Queens took over the rap industry.
"If somebody doesn't get shot because of this book, I will be fucking amazed."—Chuck Klosterman
"One of the first reliable accounts [of the crack era]…the fact that Brown was able to publish so thorough an account is itself notable"—The Village Voice
“A vigorous account of an American subculture that’s colorful, influential and, given the body count, tragic.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“I can say without reservation that it is a classic of hip-hop journalism and a major feat of investigative reporting.”—Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
“New York journalist Brown, who covers pop music, drug issues, and crime, resifts the evidence in the city's rapper/gang wars, thoroughly exploring the connections between the big-money rap music industry and the big-money criminal enterprise of drug dealing. So doing, he makes a valuable contribution to the burgeoning literature on the violence of such heroes of the 'hood as Lorenzo "Fat Cat" Nichols, Gerald "Prince" Miller, Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, and Thomas "Tony Montana" Mickens as well as the rappers who glorified and shared with them a glitzy, murderous urban pleasure-dome existence.”—Booklist
“Hard headed and impeccable."—The Boston Phoenix