PERSONAL: Female. Education: Immaculate Heart College, B.A.; Columbia University, M.A.
CAREER: Journalist and author. Former reporter for Los Angeles Times; worked for CBS News as a journalist and Web site developer. Consultant for journalism software and for University of Southern California online journalism program.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pulitzer Prize, 1992, for team coverage of Los Angeles riots for Los Angeles Times; Society of Professional Journalists award, 1993, for best writing nationwide.
(With Chris Oyler and Beth Polson) Go toward the Light, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1988.
(With J.B. Strasser) Swoosh: The Unauthorized Story of Nike, and the Men Who Played There, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1991.
(With Zainab Salbi) Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing up in the Shadow of Saddam, Gotham (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Laurie Becklund is an award-winning journalist who has cowritten several nonfiction books on topics as diverse as the Nike athletic shoe company and Saddam Hussein. In Swoosh: The Unauthorized Story of Nike, and the Men Who Played There, Becklund teamed up with her sister, J.B. Strasser, a former advertising executive for the shoe company, to tell the story of Nike's rise to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. Strasser's husband was an executive for the company during its early days, when Americans took up running and fitness and turned Nike and its "swoosh" logo into a populist status symbol.
Becklund and Strasser chart Nike's humble beginnings in the late 1960s, when Phil Knight, a former track star, decided to meld his interest in sports with his degree in accounting. In relating the young company's freewheeling ways, when those at the top refused to bog themselves down with job titles, Becklund and Strasser, according to a writer in Publishers Weekly, "chart a business-sports phenomenon in captivating detail." Reviewers also noted the authors' apparent admiration for Knight's nontraditional business methods and their waning enthusiasm as Nike grows into a billion-dollar powerhouse.
Becklund also helped write Zainab Salbi's memoir, Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing up in the Shadow of Saddam. Salbi's father was one of Saddam Hussein's advisors, and she grew up simultaneously admiring and fearing the Iraqi leader. Under Hussein's dictatorship, Salbi and others learned to forget friends and acquaintances who had been killed by Hussein in order to maintain what little peace of mind they still possessed. When Salbi is a teenager, Hussein becomes interested in her, prompting her parents to ship her off to the United States and into an arranged marriage.
A critic for Kirkus Reviews called Becklund's prose in Between Two Worlds "flat" but concluded that "Salbi's story has value for those hoping to understand the strangeness and ubiquity of Saddam's regime." Conversely, a writer for Publishers Weekly called the book an "engrossing memoir" and "an enlightening revelation of how, by barely perceptible stages, decent people make accommodations in a horrific regime."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2005, review of Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing up in the Shadow of Saddam, p. 836.
Library Journal, August 1, 2005, Sadiq Alkoriji, review of Between Two Worlds, p. 97.
Publishers Weekly, November 22, 1991, review of Swoosh: The Unauthorized Story of Nike, and the Men Who Played There, p. 45; July 18, 2005, review of Between Two Worlds, p. 196.
Time, January 20, 1992, Richard Stengel, review of Swoosh, p. 53.
Washington Free Press, January-February, 1998, Doug Nufer, "Two Tales of One Nike."