A gripping, true story of one man’s forty-year struggle with compulsive gambling and his hard-won recovery.
"My history of gambling really began before I was born." So opens Born to Lose, Bill Lee's self-told story of gambling addiction, set in San Francisco's Chinatown and steeped in a culture where it is not unheard of for gamblers (Lee's grandfather included) to lose their children to a bet. From wagering away his beloved baseball card collection as a youngster to forfeiting everything he owned at black jack tables in Las Vegas, Lee describes what gambling addiction feels like from the inside and how recovery is possible through the Twelve Step program.
A gambling addiction can be as destructive and as life-altering as any other addiction, and former human resources exec and Lake Tahoe regular Lee has a story to prove it. Breezily written and compelling, Lee's book chronicles his slow descent. He starts by reminiscing about his 1950s and '60s San Francisco childhood, about the genetic aspects of such addictions (Lee's Chinese grandfather was sold as a young boy to pay off his own father's gambling debts), and about Lee's father's struggles with gambling. The author's own addictions flare up when he plays the stock market (which he persuasively describes as legalized gambling), and when he needs to escape the emotional pressures of his high-stress consulting job. After falling tens of thousands of dollars into debt, Lee finally finds the strength to attend a Gambler's Anonymous meeting, and the remainder of the book describes his difficult recovery. As a memoir of addiction, this work is hardly as lurid as some other, more popular chronicles. What sets it apart are the details about the ways in which Lee's Chinese heritage played into his addiction and healing, providing an unusual look at the issue.