4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newbery is an in-depth autobiography which reveals many significant milestones as well as subsidiary facts including, but not limited to, numerous pitfalls and hardships, victories and triumphs. Born with an inner drive to persevere, this industrious man began work for wages at the age of seven handling a paper route; he continued to advance in the work spectrum as he matured. Although Newbery successfully held many jobs, he seemed to find his niche in the real estate industry. Lacking a high school diploma (and a college education, by choice), this author was able to rise to the top of his business field; he bought undesired properties, refurbished them, and improved the complexes to be more appealing for current and future tenants. Adhering to an honest work ethic and upholding a rigorous labor regimen, he retained a passion for an endless desire to learn, often following advice from fellow leaders. This writer seems to succeed at every task he undertakes, in turn, leading him to believe that failure is a total impossibility, allowing self-assurance (in some cases) to override sound decisions. Unfortunately, when Newbery’s entire organization is derailed by one natural disaster—an ice storm which caused insurmountable damage to a large apartment building-- he is faced with the ultimate dilemma: succumb to financial defeat, or press onward through the ultimate “burn zone,” discovering new techniques to revamp his business and reclaim the life he had.
I found this book thoroughly enjoyable, even though I have limited knowledge of independent business, mostly because this writer connects with the reader on a personal level. Newbery highlights numerous aspects that are not connected to his career such as his home life, family structure, social class, and true characteristics of his personality. This information makes the author more than just a name, but identifiable as an actual human being. In fact, many pages in the text contain actual photos of him with his family, as well as career memorabilia, adding to his realism.
However, I did not overly care for the book structure. There is a distinct table of contents, but all chapters contain numerous subtitles (not listed, but rather spliced throughout). This technique caused confusion for me as I had trouble keeping track of the alteration between main sections versus sub-chapters.
This autobiography offers much diversity; therefore, it has the potential to appeal to all types of readers. I believe anyone with knowledge of real estate would enjoy sharing Newbery’s ideas and testimonials, especially regarding profiting using non-traditional measures. Also, individuals who like stories about the underdog persona, (the atypical winner) would probably find this book intriguing, as this aspect of the author’s character is mentioned frequently. Consequently, I would not recommend this literary work to young/adolescent individuals, at least not until they reach near adulthood. A good portion of Newbery’s writing is dedicated to the intricate structure pertaining to the housing market and the associated businesses such as: investments, the purpose of the American Homeowner Preservation, benefits/drawbacks of non-profit vs for-profit, etc. Young minds may have trouble grasping complex material of this nature.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. This author’s recap of his life was both fascinating and uplifting; his grammar was also meticulously correct. Although his message possessed complexities, primarily in reference to career, most of the text was relatable. Additionally, I found Newbery’s genuine care for others particularly humbling, especially in reference to the way he used expanding corporations for the betterment of those less fortunate and never let financial wealth lead to a greedy nature.
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