I'd like to think I recognize raw talent when I see it, but if memory serves, I rejected a piece in the late 1980s — back when I was managing editor of the Thoroughbred Times — from a young writer named Laura Hillenbrand.
Boy, did she get better after that!
Hillenbrand, of course, is the best-selling author of “Seabiscuit: An American Legend,” which was made into a major motion picture. She won two Eclipse Awards writing about Seabiscuit and gained a legion of admirers who were astounded at her courage in overcoming the often debilitating consequences of chronic fatigue syndrome, which she's had more than 20 years.
Hillenbrand is back at it with a second best-seller, “Unbroken,” this one about another runner, Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete who was captured and subsequently tortured by the Japanese in World War II after floating on a small raft in shark-infested Pacific waters for 47 days. She's been at work on the book for seven years, and the reviews have been extremely positive.
“Unbroken” is currently No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for non-fiction.
Tim Layden, who covers horse racing for Sports Illustrated (and also wrote a terrific cover story on SI's Sportsman of the Year Drew Brees), sat down for a Q&A with Hillenbrand, talking about her love of sports and the difficulties she's had with chronic fatigue syndrome. That interview can be read here.
A Washington Post review of “Unbroken” can be read here.
And Laura, if you happen to be reading this, give me a call. We've got a slot for you here at the Paulick Report anytime you're interested in getting back into writing about horse racing. Sorry about that last rejection.
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