Friday, December 30, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: No Grey Areas by Joseph Gagliano

Joseph Gagliano was a central figure in the Arizona State University basketball point shaving scandal of the 1990s.  He has published a book about that event, his role in it and how his life took him there - and beyond.  I was asked to read the book and publish a reviews.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I was provided a complimentary copy of the book by the Cadence Marketing Group however the review is completely my own and I was never influenced by Cadence.

Admittedly I started reading “No Grey Areas” by Joseph Gagliano with healthy skepticism regarding motive.  He states in his introduction that he wrote the book in the “sincere hope for this story…to influence your thinking as you take your own steps.”

I didn’t buy it.  Even as I started reading it I wasn’t buying it.  It was as if a convicted felon was just trying to find a way to profit by his misdeeds under the veil of remorse.
An interesting thing happened from cover to cover.  By the end of the book, I cared about Joe.  I cared about what happened to him and I truly believed that he cared about what happened to the reader.  He transformed from Gagliano the felon, to Joe the walking, talking, cautionary tale.
He decent into bad decision making was gradual, but steady and unflinching.  An action junkie, Gagliano was seduced by the Chicago commodities market and the lure of easy money.  Scamming came easy for Gagliano, even as the voice in his head was telling him it was wrong, be it rigged Super Bowl squares, 900 numbers or, eventually, game fixing.
It was easy to push that voice back into the depths of his consciousness.  His story is even made more compelling by the legitimate success Gagliano attained through restaurants and then later in car washes.  He had the mind and the spirit to succeed in legitimate business but was unable to avoid the seduction of short cuts.  Eventually even doing the right thing couldn’t work out right and Joe found himself back in jail and writing his story.
While the allure of the book is the Arizona State basketball point shaving scandal of 1993-94, Joe’s story is much more.  More scams; more internal conflicts; more contradictions and, eventually, peace.  His road to redemption becomes more compelling as you read.
Most appealing is Joe’s writing style.  He’s good but not a professional – and it works.  Because it is his story and you can hear it in his voice.  At a time when life was bleakest he found salvation in an ex-football player preacher, an accepting parish community and true love.
I went from skeptic, to empathetic almost a fan.  I am rooting for Joe to make a go of life legitimately.  The breezy read will keep you engaged throughout and by the end you’ll want to see Joe make it as well – and maybe examine some of your own life choices.

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