Robert Kerbeck

Robert Kerbeck fought one of the worst fires in California history, the 2018 Woolsey Fire, to save his home. His debut book, Malibu Burning: The Real Story Behind LA’s Most Devastating Wildfire, won the 2020 IPPY Award as the Silver Medalist in Creative Nonfiction, the Readers’ Favorite Award as the Silver Medalist in Nonfiction Drama, and the Best of LA award.


His newest memoir, RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street, is a thrilling look into the world of corporate espionage and his career as a secret spy. Robert’s essays and short stories have been featured in numerous magazines and literary journals. One story was adapted into the award-winning film, Reconnected. A lifetime member of The Actors Studio, Robert has worked extensively in theater, film, and television, appearing in lead roles in major shows and earning several awards. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he resides in Malibu.
  • RUSE

    Kerbeck’s once-promising acting career trailed off as he burrowed deeper and deeper into the world of corporate espionage.

    RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street explores the lies he told, the celebrities he screwed (and the ones who screwed him), the cons he ran, and the millions he made — and lost — along the way.

  • Malibu Burning

    Malibu is known as an earthly paradise of multi-million-dollar mansions, movie stars, and unimaginable natural beauty. But all that changed on November 8, 2018.

    Go deep behind the scenes and experience first-hand accounts of the most destructive wildfire in Los Angeles history– from the rich and famous to the firefighters who often risked their lives.

  • “Robert Kerbeck has mastered the art of social engineering, or what he calls ‘rusing’, and taken it to a whole new level.”

    - Frank Abagnale, author of Catch Me If You Can and Scam Me If You Can
  • “Kerbeck has a very compelling writing style and can pull off humor, too, which isn’t easy. I really enjoyed RUSE.”

    - Bradley Hope, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Billion Dollar Whale
  • “RUSE lives at a truly unique intersection of Hollywood meets Wall Street, and I found myself laughing with and rooting for Robert throughout this book. His personality leaps off the page—he’s a great storyteller and RUSE is a can’t miss best seller.”
    - Rob Golenberg, Executive Producer of the critically acclaimed Showtime series, Your Honor
  • RUSE exposes the dark, greedy, narcissistic side of Wall Street and Big Business in general. Kerbeck out-cons the top con-artists—sophisticated CEOs. And he does it over the phone. Wow! In my day I had to fly around the world!”

    - John Perkins, New York Times Bestselling Author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
  • “With honesty and verve, Robert Kerbeck delivers an irresistible portrait of actors and grifters in the work-a-day world of corporate espionage.”

    - Jess Walter, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Beautiful Ruins
  • “Robert Kerbeck’s memoir, RUSE, is a riveting tale of desire and deception in a world where lies are necessary currency and where con artists can end up convincing everyone, even themselves.”

    - Lee Martin, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of Gone the Hard Road
  • “In RUSE, Robert Kerbeck reveals himself to be a scoundrel, a raconteur, and a masterful storyteller. In the course of becoming an unlikely spy, his various masks are so seamless that readers are swept along. Sometimes memoirs forget to give readers a good story. Not here. What other book features a narrator attending a soiree at Paul Newman’s Manhattan apartment, and appearing in an O.J. Simpson exercise video? And that’s just for starters. This compelling page-turner is an absolute hoot.”

    - Sue William Silverman, author, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences
  • “The best kind of nonfiction – so visceral it feels like fiction.”

    Malibu Burning
  • “An engrossing, thorough, and revealing portrait of a beloved beachside community confronting disaster.”

    - Kirkus Reviews
    Malibu Burning
  • “A lucky break for any reader: an honest-to-god writer dropped in the center of the Malibu fire. Thrilling, well-researched, and occasionally light-hearted, this is a unique and special book.”

    - Paul Kolsby, writer for the critically acclaimed Netflix series, Ozark
    Malibu Burning
  • “Robert Kerbeck puts a human face on the type of tragedy that grabs headlines but then fades from our collective memory all-too-soon. Blending personal narrative and investigative research, Kerbeck shows us the real story of what happens when a community faces down disaster.”

    - Brandon Spiegel, Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Narratively
    Malibu Burning
  • “The name ‘Malibu’ has a lot of baggage-playground of the rich, birthplace of Gidget – but what Robert Kerbeck shows us is the real Malibu: a small town much like any other across America, economically diverse, and in the instance of the Woolsey Fire, betrayed by the very entities that were supposed to defend it. What you also see rising up out of the ashes is community, a new generation of leaders, and hope. Riveting and heartbreaking, but also inspiring.”

    - Liz Ziemska, Pushcart Prize winning author of Mandelbrot the Magnificent
    Malibu Burning
  • “Rather than focus on the enormity of Los Angeles County’s largest wildfire in recorded history, Robert Kerbeck takes a much more personal and thoroughly riveting approach, allowing the reader to see the Woolsey Fire through the eyes of individuals who lived through it. Each chapter tells a different story, and together they provide deep insight into the fire’s effect on one community.”

    - Sharan Street, former managing editor, LA Weekly
    Malibu Burning

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