4 out of 4 stars
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Jorge P. Newbery's autobiography Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands chronicles the journey of his extraordinary life. He was an entrepreneur from the very beginning and a fearless risk taker. The book is a simple narrative of the author’s life and his experience, rather than a preachy “how-to guide” to instant success.
From about the age of eight, Jorge Newbery was exceptionally driven by the desire to make money, and the book starts with the young boy on a paper run. It then follows him through becoming an ice cream seller, and later try his hand as a professional cyclist, then finding his base as a loans broker and property developer. Scattered through the story are glimpses of some of the darker aspects of American society through the 1970s to recent times. A common theme throughout the book was his relentless motivation to make it through the ‘Burn Zones' that Jorge described as, “relatively short periods of extraordinary effort that separated the winners and losers.” This philosophy marks the core of this autobiography.
The author’s story is vividly described by sharing his dreams, his success, his ambitions, and how his penchant for taking risks has put him occasionally in despair but simultaneously, gave him clarity that kept him intact. Jorge’s ethics in business, sports and in his personal life show a single minded consistency; however, we also get to see his humane side for people who were different or less fortunate than others. Perhaps Jorge could empathize because he personally knew what it was like to be different. He was personally driven but also had the support of a strong family with deep roots that he could rely on. He had some humorous moments throughout the book, like the part where he tells us about his favorite music genre. This one made my eyes water with laughter.
For a 314 page novel, Jorge had to moved quickly through his life’s story. I found that there was an overall depth that was missing from this novel because of it’s short length. The author’s life hasn’t been boring for him so far! We witnessed his rise from a paperboy to owning 4,000 apartments across the US and then lose it all (26 million dollars) – his ultimate burn zone. What fascinated me at this point was how Jorge handled it all. How he lost it all, did not declare bankruptcy and came through the crisis unscathed. He did not give up under any circumstances.
Overall, Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands is a brilliant read for young adults and budding entrepreneurs for it’s motivational and inspirational value. I give it 4 out of 4 stars. Even though the story lags after page 200, the book is exceptionally well-edited with minimal mistakes and no grammar issues. Newbery is a street smart entrepreneur, risk taking investor, professional athlete, and a brilliant author. He has been there and done it all and his book is bound to make a brilliant read, and given his experiences with his life’s “burn zones”, it's a must read for everyone.
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