Select Page

Brilliant Disguise

Brilliant Disguise

After their nuclear family exploded into a vaporous mushroom cloud, the two siblings could only duck and cover. The young Susan basked in her brother Robert’s glow. Teachers singled her out because, certainly, the little sister would excel too. But how could she ever reach their expectations? Instead, she rebelled, chose the wrong men, drank and took drugs.


Susan talked her way into a job at Rolling Stone magazine in 1976. Three years later, as an organizer of five nights of No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden with Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, and many others, she got snared in the rock politics scramble and her brother saved her. Many years later, though, she could not save him.


Only in retrospect can Susan piece together how Robert’s too-brief life was a brilliant disguise. Traumatized by their childhood experience, he buried his pain behind an outsized personality. On his twelfth wedding anniversary in 1990, he ended his life. Brilliant Disguise winds together Susan’s rock-and-roll odyssey with an exploration of Robert’s life, teasing out clues as to why the past so dangerously swamped him.

Pages: 252
Pub Date: 05-28-2024
Softcover: 18.95 979-8-88824-343-5
Hardcover: 26.95 979-8-88824-345-9


Susan Kellam started her career at Rolling Stone magazine when typewriters were still being flung across offices. Eventually leaving the rock-and-roll world for straight journalism, her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Washingtonian magazine, Congressional Quarterly, the Baltimore Sun, and numerous other places. She finished her full-time career as senior communications expert on domestic policy at the Brookings Institution. The Obama administration tapped her to edit the Economic Report of the President, as did the Biden administration. Susan was a contributing writer on the 2021 book, How Ten Global Cities Take on Homelessness. She lives on a salt-water farm in Maine with two rambunctious dogs.

All books by this author| Visit author website