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There is no one path to success. This truism is certainly underscored in this entertaining, often hair-raising and brutally honest memoir of the self-described young “hellion” who ultimately built a multi-million dollar U.S. company. And what a company. And what an industry: high-end audio, the crossroads of technology and culture. Who better to tell the tale of how the worlds of “sex, drugs and Rock & Roll” intersected with an electronics industry spearheaded by space-race innovation at the service of tie-dyed counter-culturalists? Welcome to the rollicking world of Paul McGowan, who started out as the Huckleberry Hellion of Orange County to become a force in the world of high-end audio. The book is an adventure story, and the adventure is the second half of the twentieth century. The core audience for this book is anyone in love with music, its production and reproduction, though anyone who grew up in or wishes to know more about the era of 60’s music and the effects of Vietnam on America will find a treasure-trove here. I would also recommend “99% True” to anyone freshly graduated or to any twenty or thirty-something whose first, second or third efforts in life resulted in failure. It’s wonderful when initial effort leads to success, but the most interesting lives are built on hard-won knowledge that, in the best of cases, matures into hard-won wisdom. I smiled reading the epiphanies detailed on pages 82, 174 and 286, but no peeking; it takes the context of a wild and crazy life to fully appreciate the lessons learned. Paul McGowan is today an avuncular, respected and successful inventor, entrepreneur and business owner. It did not come easily or quickly, and the story of the journey makes for a memoir I had a hard time putting down. Highly recommended.
What an abso!ute pleasure this book is! I'll take a cue from Paul and be very honest: I purchased this book more out of respect for Paul than an actual interest in reading what I feared would be an embarrassing collection of corny stories. Though I don't know Paul personally, I think of him as a friend and I would hate to see him make a fool of himself. I am delighted to report that this book is NOT an embarrassment at all. Paul's writing is very good, very consistent, and is often humorous. I've enjoyed Paul's blogs and videos for a long time and assumed since he and I have similar interests that we both got where we are via the same path and experiences. I couldn't have been more wrong! And like other reviewers have reported, it's very hard to put the book down. Paul --- thank you for your well-told story!
I don’t know the author personally but he was kind enough to send me a preview copy of his book and I have subsequently bought the kindle edition. I read the book over 2 days while recovering from foot surgery and wasn’t sleeping much. It kept me thoroughly entertained and my mind occupied which was a good thing. It’s definitely a memoir rather than a novel in my opinion but in saying that it’s a good yarn. Multiple yarns really. Some elements of the book, I found quite shocking given Paul’s propensity for high jinks both as a youth and as, in theory, an adult, and the number of times he was taken advantage of as well as him expanding the envelope of advantage taking was prodigious. Gullible so many times but still bouncing back with an optimistic view. (His wife really must be an angel). That he survived and is now such an advocate for sharing knowledge and an avid communicator is commendable even if you read about some of his culinary exploits abroad and wonder why he became a dandelion eater. I guess that’s why he developed a liking for weed(S).
Being 10 years or so younger than him, and from the UK, I found his Vietnam years fascinating, if that’s really the right word. I have a us friend who was a forward targetter like Paul was destined to be and he still suffers from nervous situations as well as hearing loss so he always sits with his back to wall. A thoroughly enjoyable and sometimes uncomfortable read if you are a bit straight laced and naive about the 60s and 70s like I am.
If Paul McGowan ever had a theme song for his life, it would be the old chestnut "Pick Yourself Up." His new memoir tells his life story where he has picked himself up, dusted himself off, and started all over again numerous times to eventually lead his successful high-end audio company, PS Audio, into the 21st century. His life has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, and his life's misadventures, successes and failures are a wild ride at times. The memoir is at various points elated, discouraged, happy and sad, but most of all it's a story about drive, determination and inspiration. With the story written in Paul's easygoing conversational style, the pages fly by and keep the reader well-entertained right to the final page. If you devour biographies and memoirs as I do, you will enjoy this book, even if you are not familiar with the world of high-end audio. A great read from cover to cover.
This is what I personally wrote to Paul: "t is a wonderful book, Paul. I grew up in the same era, went into the Army, loved music, got out and eventually founded a Biometrics technology company. Also drove a VW Super Beetle and a Sirocco. I read your book in three days, and loved it. My heart really went out to you over your synthesizer. I got cheated badly on a deal, too. And the gate at Nudells place hammering the roof of your VW cracked me up. One of the finest moments in the book, and there are very many great moments, was your visit to Manila and the music room experience. The guy just wanted you to hear what your work sounded like in the most pristine listening environment imaginable. That was truly special. And that eight-hour bus ride :) OMG. <sigh> I will eventually read it again. Thank you so much for sharing. Your book is so well written, I was astonished, and humbled. Wish I could meet you and just hang out for a while."
The book made me happy, and sad. Paul McGowan went through a LOT of hard times, and his wife is one of the very few steadfast women I know throughout history. If you love music, this book is especially interesting. But if you are a human being, this book will inspire you. It's special.
I admit I read this book as a long-time audiophile (and hence know who are McGowan and his various companies). But i was pleased to find that the enjoyment of the book is from reading a well-written auto-biography with touching and amusing tales. While it was nice coming across some known names from the audiophile world (e.g., HP, Arnie Nudell), this provided a very small % of the book's enjoyment. Anyone would enjoy reading this book, even if a newbie to obsessive audiophilia. Mark's honesty about his several business failures before achieving success reinforces the sense that the books is honest history of his life, while also not being catty about the folks Mark has encountered
I enjoyed the book immensely. In some parts I related to doing some of the same dumb things and in other parts I was amazed Paul lived through it all. The book flows well and is an easy and fun read. The book kind of seems like two different books. The first half (actually more than half) came across as a true adventure story but the later half was a lesson on how to succeed in business. I finished the book feeling I know Paul and, of course, that I am glad to be an audiophile, have purchased equipment from PS Audio, and every day look forward to Paul’s posts.
Who the heck would want to read a book about the life of a guy who owns a high end audio electronics company? Surprise, you do. This book is an easy, enjoyable read. Paul's antics early in life growing up and time spent in the army as a disc jockey are rife with hilarity and misadventures that, quit frankly, is somewhat amazing that he escaped not doing time in the big house. On the serious side, it is also a study in perseverance as he overcomes multiple set backs to establish the company, PS Audio, that he now finally owns and loves. The continuous thread of his love for music and its reproduction carries on in his life even to this day.
Paul McGowan’s book detailing his formative and later years really is a breath of fresh air. I read his book several times, each time following a different but related thread.
This sounds like someone only one step ahead of a long prison term. That isn’t it at all. Many innovators simply follow a different course throughout their lives and end up making a difference. Paul has found that “sweet spot” and it’s working really well. When he says he wants to help others, it isn’t a pitch. He means it. Paul is the real deal. Paul has stayed true to his course and is now sharing his life experiences. I wouldn’t be surprised if a future book continues the tail.