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Robert Kerbeck, Acclaimed Author of Malibu Burning, Selected as a Finalist for the 2021 SoCal Journalism Awards

Robert Kerbeck, Acclaimed Author

Malibu Burning: The Real Story Behind LA's Most Devastating Wildfire

Robert Kerbeck (left) & LA Mayor Eric Garcetti (right)

Sean Penn and Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be on hand to celebrate Kerbeck and the best of Southern California Journalism

LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES, September 14, 2021 / -- Robert Kerbeck, acclaimed author, is a finalist for the 2021 SoCal Journalism Awards for his article, “California’s Courageous Firefighters,” in Shonda Rhimes’ magazine, Shondaland. “Congratulations on your huge success,” said Shonda Rhimes, best known as the creator of the TV shows Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. “The team at Shondaland is thrilled for you.” Kerbeck is also the author of the best-selling book, Malibu Burning, which has won multiple national awards. Fire season in California looks different today—hotter temperatures, bigger fires, terrible air quality. But Kerbeck predicted all this in Malibu Burning. In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, the “bible of the book business,” Kerbeck said, “I’m worried about the planet becoming hotter and drier. I fear extreme fires are going to be the new normal.” Malibu Burning is a critically important book for our time, as much for its insights into the power of ordinary citizens working tirelessly to help each other as for its information on fire safety and prevention.

Kerbeck’s next book, RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street, is about his career as a corporate spy and releases February 1, 2022 with pre-orders available now.

RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street:

In the world of high finance, multibillion-dollar Wall Street banks greedily guard their secrets. Enter Robert Kerbeck, a professional actor who makes his real money lying on the phone, charming people into revealing their employers’ most valuable information. In this exhilarating memoir that will appeal to fans of Catch Me If You Can and The Wolf of Wall Street, unsuspecting receptionists, assistants, and bigshot executives all fall victim to “the Ruse.”

After college, Kerbeck rushed to New York to try to make it as an actor. But to support himself, he’d need a survival job, and before he knew it, while his pals were waiting tables, he began his apprenticeship as a corporate spy.

As his acting career started to take off, he found himself hobnobbing with Hollywood luminaries: drinking with Paul Newman, taking J.Lo to a Dodgers game, touring E.R. sets with George Clooney. He even worked with O.J. Simpson the week before he became America’s most notorious double murderer.

Before long, however, his once promising acting career slowed while the corporate espionage business took off. The ruse job was supposed to have been temporary, but Kerbeck became one of the world’s best practitioners of this deceptive—and illegal—trade. His income jumped from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars a year.

Until the inevitable crash…

Kerbeck shares the lies he told, the celebrities he screwed (and those who screwed him), the cons he ran, and the money he made—and lost—along the way.


Robert Kerbeck is the founder of the Malibu Writers Circle and a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. His first-person account of the Woolsey Fire was read by over a million people as an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times. Based on that essay, 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.

Robert's essays and short stories have been featured in numerous magazines and literary journals, including Narratively, Cimarron Review, Los Angeles Magazine, Shondaland, and The Normal School. One of his stories was adapted into the award-winning film, Reconnected, which has appeared at film festivals worldwide. 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. His forthcoming memoir, RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street (Steerforth Press/Penguin Random House February 1, 2022), is a thrilling look into his career as a corporate spy. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Robert resides in Malibu. Learn more about him and his work at

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