4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newbery is a fantastic non-fiction book. It is the story of someone’s life, it is a manual to success for anyone who cares to pay attention. How generous of the author to share his experience of working out success and failure.
Writing a bio of the author seems superfluous as the book itself does that. It starts with the seven-year-old boy’s success in delivering newspapers and then selling ice cream, then with his getting into the first league in cycling, his making millions in real estate projects, losing them all and then some in debt, only to recover all back, against all odds, by coming up with another formula for success, not just for himself but for many less fortunate people, the “underdog” as he calls them. A lifetime route is understood through this “burn zone” theory, i.e. bringing yourself to the limit of endurance to overcome an obstacle.
Is the author the main character in his book? I suppose he is, although the book is not about himself, a modest and unassuming champion in more than one race, but more about success as he managed to reach it, applying the burn zone strategy to all his endeavors. Media plays an important part in the book and is seen as both the main factor in the author's failures and a supporting actor in his success. The reader can understand the frailty of the news the media is providing him with, as well as how it can cause the crush of some honest entrepreneurs even if blameless.
I liked the book. I liked to learn about a boy whose passion was work, who was different from others but embraced the difference and did not let it prevent him from following his dreams. I liked his standing for the underdog, be it punks or people who were given less chance because of their race or as victims of banks and their greed.
I might say that the technicalities of real estate dealings or insurance or the entire mortgage structure were a little much for me as an alien to the system, but I looked at them from the perspective of a translator, and thus considered them a valuable source of information. The “f…” word was just used in quotation marks, more like to express protest against a blatant inequity the author was subjected to.
Therefore there is no flaw that I can find to this book, which I cannot give any less than four out of four stars.
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