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a memoir of struggle, success, and truth

by Dan Bolen with Landon J. Napoleon

Pub Date: July 28th, 2022
ISBN: 9781734877458
Publisher: Avery Press

Bolen recounts an impressive career as an employment recruiter and his lifelong struggle to come to grips with his gay identity.

The author began his career in employment staffing with a show of remarkable confidence—in 1969, he showed up at Snelling and Snelling, then the largest employment agency in the United States, and demanded a job. He was 21 years old, a college dropout, and had no relevant work experience. Not only was the author hired, but he became the company’s top producer within three months. He had made his first million dollars before the age of 30. In 1985, Bolen started his own firm, Dan Bolen and Associates, which he owned and operated until his retirement in 2018: It was the conclusion to a half-century brimming with financial success and the industry’s most coveted accolades. Yet his personal life was a mess. Although Bolen knew he was attracted to men, he assiduously kept his sexual orientation a closely guarded secret. In fact, he buried this truth so deep inside of himself that it outwardly expressed itself as homophobia, a wrenching dilemma that led to suicidal depression. The author’s remembrances here are rich and complex—the book begins as a somewhat conventional account of his entrepreneurial success, an almost self-aggrandizing catalog of his “unrelenting drive to succeed.” The heart of the story, however, is not his professional life but the personal travails that he concealed behind the curtain of accomplishment. With admirable candor, he discusses his troubled relationship with an abusive father, his two failed marriages, and his challenges as a Jehovah’s Witness, a religious sect that finally expelled him. With nuanced sensitivity, Bolen reflects on the emotional toll exacted by living a lie: “Who would I be without the secret? Because I had become the secret.” This is an affectingly honest, even confessional life story, one marked by both keen intelligence and fearless self-criticism.

A provocative memoir, refreshingly candid and thoughtful.