4 out of 4 stars
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Jorge Newbery felt the drive to succeed at a very young age. He liked working, he liked earning money, and he liked proving he could excel. The proof of all this is in the fact that he talked his way into being hired to deliver newspapers at the age of only seven. The boy loved a challenge! He worked his way through several jobs, only going to the next once he’d succeeded in excelling at the previous one. He was too young to understand loss and failure, especially since he had a supportive family, an excellent work ethic, and didn’t fail. At least, not for a long time. When events – and people – conspired against him, he was shocked and horrified. He put things into perspective by remembering how he’d made it through tough times before. He labeled times that required strenuous effort and determination “burn zones” that were temporary. When the challenge was overwhelming, tempting him to give up, he reminded himself that this was the time to focus and give his all until he made it out of the burn zone.
Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands is Jorge Newbery’s autobiography, written to share the lessons he learned through both good times and adversity. I spent much of my time reading this in awe at his drive and ingenuity while he was still a little guy. It was quite inspiring. My sons worked as little children too, but they only happily accepted offers presented to them; Jorge made his own opportunities.
The book is helpful in that he recounts not only what happened, but also his thoughts and motivations that led to him taking the steps he took. He provides information about the inner workings of certain fields, such as music production, bicycle racing, finance, and real estate. His involvement in cleaning up a ghetto area by managing to involve the residents themselves took persistence as well as ingenuity, both of which the man has in abundance.
The only thing I disliked – and I disliked it a lot – is his insistence that black people don’t commit crimes, that police deliberately arrest black males without cause. He further claims that any blacks that do commit crimes only do so because white people expect them to. I found his racism quite offensive. He claims whites are the cause of all black problems, and that blacks have no autonomy in that they can succeed “if whites give them opportunities.” This from a man who made his own opportunities at a very young age! He then recounted how his black partner, who had been instrumental in turning around the ghetto community, went on to become a criminal afterwards. Also, his black girlfriend refused to go anywhere near a building they pulled up to because of the group of young black men hanging around the front door. Jorge furiously made offensive judgments about white people as a group, then provided examples directly refuting those judgments.
I was happy to see that he discussed, with great appreciation, people who mentored him, and those who encouraged and supported him throughout his life. I like his drive, his compassion, and the fact that he wrote this book. Some of his business dealings sound a bit shady to me, but perhaps they’re totally legitimate. His determination to succeed while helping others as well as himself is admirable. I rate this professionally edited, motivational, and informational book 4 out of 4 stars.
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