4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands is an autobiographical non-fiction book written by Jorge P. Newbery. The author is a serial entrepreneur who started working at age seven as a paperboy, used his savings from various jobs to start a record business, and eventually became a real estate mogul. He saw all of his life's hard work go to waste as an ice storm hit an apartment complex he was trying to develop. This triggered a series of events culminating in financial collapse, forcing him to find a way to regain his footing.
The most important and recurring theme in the book is the concept of burn zones. As a former bike racer, the author defines burn zones as short but intense stretches in a race that test one's limits and separate winners from losers. He believes that all of us, not just athletes, face several burn zones in our personal lives that define who we are. All of the book's stories try to illustrate and reinforce that notion, showing how the author overcame his burn zones and inspiring the reader to do the same.
The author is great at painting vivid pictures of the events he witnessed. You take an intimate look at the '80s punk scene through the eyes of an idealistic young man, experience a rush of adrenaline as you read about bike races, face the thrill and despair of high-risk business ventures, etc. The rich details make for an engaging read from start to finish.
While the first six chapters are mostly focused on professional pursuits, the last four deal with more personal events that happened in the past few years. The author talks about his involvement with the Occupy movement, his marriage, and his father's death. These chapters are significantly shorter, but they offer a satisfying and heartwarming conclusion to the book. The author's memories of his father's last days are particularly touching, and you really feel the strong bond between these two.
I only found two grammatical errors and a minor typo, so the book is generally well-edited. Given that, I'm confident in rating Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands 4 out of 4 starts. It's an excellent read suitable for all audiences, featuring simple and accessible language without swear words or inappropriate content. Whether you are a young person unsure about the future, an entrepreneur trying to deal with some crisis, a worker facing an important career decision, or anyone else dealing with uncertainty and change, you should be able to extract valuable lessons from the book.
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