A NOTE FROM JIM SQUIRES
Thirty-five years of journalism was enough, I had concluded. Let someone else write the stories for me to read at my leisure. Finally I was where the old Chicago Tribune editor Robert McCormick had predicted all those who'd chosen his profession would be eventually—to the point in life where I preferred the company of animals to men and that of books to animals.
So it was from the comfort of my horse farm in Kentucky that I read Jane Smiley's novel Horse Heaven and Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, and finally in the spring of 2001, Laura Hillenbrand's biography of the legendary Seabiscuit, which I had been asked to review for The New York Times. The day the review ran—March 11, 2001—all the papers carried the news of a million-dollar horse race in Florida won by a steel-gray colt named Monarchos that I had raised on my Kentucky farm. He immediately became a favorite for the most important and difficult-to-win race in the world—the Kentucky Derby. And two months later, he won it in spectacular fashion with the second fastest time in history.
It soon dawned on me that all my years as a trained observer had not been for nothing. I still recognized a story when I saw one. And one was definitely happening—to me. In it the horses were as exciting as Seabiscuit and the human characters as wacko as Cormac McCarthy's and the plot as beguiling as Jane Smiley's.
In the old days I would have assigned my best young, energetic, curious, and unbiased reporter. But I knew the main character of this yarn to be so contrary, elusive, and skilled in the black arts of journalism that no ordinary reporter would be a match for him.
No, this story needed a veteran investigative reporter with grit and expertise who could track mushy ground, one with an eye for the absurd and an ear for code and doublespeak. It demanded a writer with a poison pen and a complete disregard for balance and objectivity, an assassin who was out to get the target. For this story to be as unbelievable, entertaining, ridiculous, and as much fun in the reading as it was in the happening, it could only be investigated and written by me. And having always been a sucker for a good story, I just couldn't resist.
Pub date: 03/13/03
Price: $14.00/22.00 Canada
8 pp. b&w photos
Carton Quantity: 32
Selling Territory: WORLD EXCL. UK & COMMONWEALTH
Pub history: PublicAffairs HC 1-58648-117-7