4 out of 4 stars
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One look with John Costello today and you would never guess that he had experienced so much trouble in the past. He has become a successful man. He is the Vice President in a billion-dollar semiconductor company. He has a loving wife and two sets of twins. One could say that he has it all. And yet, after reading his memoir, I could almost picture in my head the famous line: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean by John Costello tells the story of how a Chicago street-wise kid rose to the executive ladder.
John Costello was born in Chicago at the time where gangs and motorcycle clubs were at its peak. He grew up to be street-wise, partly because of the dangerous environment, and mainly because his father forced him. Speaking of his father, most of John’s troubles and frustrations were because of him. His father had a twisted way of showing his love (if you can afford to call it that) for John. From childhood, John had received countless beatings from him. His father never encouraged him to go to school. He thinks that going to school is a waste of money. If not for John’s perseverance, he would not have graduated from college. To top it all, his father’s talent in singing was a front to con people. The constant association of John’s name in his father’s exploits threatens his position as he builds his way to a reputable career and life.
I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that Executive Hoodlum is one of the best memoirs I have read. Ever. It was entertaining and oozing with genuine sincerity. I felt that the author only wants to share his story with his readers. It's a plus if they pick life lessons along the way. His story was not unique in every aspect, but what makes it special is the vibe it exudes. The author wrote it so beautifully that it made me think he was a close relative of mine, telling me stories of his adventures in his younger days. I never met the author, but after reading his story, it felt like I’ve known him for a long time. The story was simple and used first person point-of-view. I found myself glued to the pages for hours.
It is noteworthy to mention that the Foreword and Afterword were written by Scott Baio and Larry Elder, respectively. These two famous and iconic men became close friends with the author. Their words were not only full of praise to the author but also sprinkled with admiration for a great friend. I agreed with Mr. Elder when he said that John’s “life is like a walking Goodfellas movie, only far more interesting.”
I enjoyed how the epilogue was structured as well. It contained a list of names that were mentioned in the book. After each name, the author wrote a brief description of the person’s current whereabouts. This was important to me because it helped me tie some loose ends on what happened to the other characters. This is usually overlooked in most memoirs. Some books tend to focus on one character and forget the other characters mentioned in the story.
Without a doubt, I give Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean by John Costello 4 out of 4 stars. There were minimal typographical errors and missing commas. However, this could be easily fixed with a bit of polishing. Anyhow, it was not enough to deduct a point in the rating. Executive Hoodlum would be perfect for readers who enjoy memoirs and even those who are still new to this particular genre. This book will not disappoint. Read it and be thoroughly entertained.
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