4 out of 4 stars
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In Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands, author Jorge P. Newbery recounts his life as an entrepreneur and risk-taker. Using bicycling terminology, Newbery takes the reader through his journey’s “burn zones” and recovery stretches.
Newbery begins his story at age seven when he pursued his first career as a newspaper delivery boy, showing how his drive and determination to succeed led him to seek new challenges beginning at a young age. Then, at age 11, Newbery tackled neighborhood ice cream sales, moving on a couple of years later to work as a busboy. His enthusiasm and creativity next led him to expand his repertoire of skills and start a fanzine, record label, stage rental company, find moderate success as a cyclist, and, eventually, enter the world of loans and real estate investment. As each chapter of his life unfolds, Newbery tries to reveal to the reader, not just the events which occurred, but his intentions and ambitions as well.
I am giving this book a four out of four star rating. The writing style was clear, accessible, and the book was clearly well-edited. The timeline of the story progressed smoothly, and Newbery took care to explain necessary details of bicycle racing and real estate loans, which enables the reader to easily follow his journey. I particularly enjoyed the personal details that Newbery included, such as descriptions of his family and his interactions with his father. The pictures dispersed throughout the book were an added bonus as well.
While I enjoyed this book overall, I did not overly connect with Newbery’s descriptions of himself. I felt that, at times, he was using his autobiography to explain away his decisions made out of arrogance or greed. The reader may be receiving a glossier image of Newbery, rather than a realistic one, although that is understandable in an autobiography. He portrays his real estate investment work through a lens of a nearly charitable nature, which clashes with the consistent goals of monetary gain or personal recognition prevalent in all of his entrepreneurial schemes. I found that I had difficulty reconciling the two, although I acknowledge that he does not portray himself as a flawless individual. He documents his failings while trumpeting his successes.
I would recommend this book to really any reader of autobiographies. I think it will hold a particular appeal to those with interest in real estate investment. Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands easily earned my four out of four star rating, and I hope others will enjoy it as I did.
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