Laura Hillenbrand

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Laura Hillenbrand
Born (1967-05-15) 15 May 1967 (age 47)
Fairfax, Virginia
Occupation Author
Nationality American
Genre Non-fiction
Notable works
Spouse Borden Flanagan (m.2006)

Laura Hillenbrand (born May 15, 1967) is an American author of books and magazine articles.


Hillenbrand's first book was the acclaimed Seabiscuit: An American Legend (2001), a nonfiction account of the career of the great racehorse Seabiscuit, for which she won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 2001. She says she was compelled to tell the story because she "found fascinating people living a story that was improbable, breathtaking and ultimately more satisfying than any story [she'd] ever come across."[1] She first told the story through an essay, "Four Good Legs Between Us," that she sold to American Heritage magazine, and the feedback was positive, so she decided to proceed with a full nonfiction book.[1] Upon the book's release, she received rave reviews for her storytelling and research.[2][3] It was made into the Academy Award nominated film Seabiscuit (2003).

Hillenbrand's second book was Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (2010), a biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini.[4]

Her essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Equus magazine, American Heritage, The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred Times, The Backstretch, Turf and Sport Digest, and many other publications. Her 1998 American Heritage article on the horse Seabiscuit won the Eclipse Award for Magazine Writing.

Hillenbrand is a co-founder of Operation International Children.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Fairfax, Virginia, Hillenbrand spent much of her childhood riding bareback "screaming over the hills" of her father's Sharpsburg, Maryland, farm.[6] A favorite of hers was Come On Seabiscuit, a 1963 kiddie book.[6] "I read it to death, my little paperback copy," she says.[6] She studied at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, but was forced to leave before graduation when she contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with which she has struggled ever since.[7] She now lives in Washington, D.C, and rarely leaves her house because of the condition.[7] Hillenbrand married Borden Flanagan, a professor of Government at American University and her college sweetheart, in 2006.[7] She described the onset and early years of her illness in an award-winning[8][9][10] essay, A Sudden Illness.[11][12]

On the irony of writing about physical paragons while being so incapacitated herself, Hillenbrand says, "I'm looking for a way out of here. I can't have it physically, so I'm going to have it intellectually. It was a beautiful thing to ride Seabiscuit in my imagination. And it's just fantastic to be there alongside Louie as he's breaking the NCAA mile record. People at these vigorous moments in their lives - it's my way of living vicariously."[7]


  1. ^ a b Andriani, Lynn (January 1, 2001), "PW Talks with Laura Hillenbrand". Publishers Weekly. 248 (1):75
  2. ^ N.A. (12/18/2003), "Beyond the top 50: Sports". USA Today
  3. ^ Sanders, Erica (May 14, 2001), "Seabiscuit (Book Review)". People. 55 (19):54
  4. ^ "The Defiant Ones", Wall Street Journal, November 12, 2010.
  5. ^ "Operation International Children". April 1, 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Kulman, Linda (March 19, 2001), "There's no holding this horse". U.S. News & World Report. 130 (11):62
  7. ^ a b c d "Laura Hillenbrand releases new book while fighting chronic fatigue syndrome", by Monica Hesse, Washington Post, November 28, 2010
  8. ^ Deirdre Donahue (10 Nov 2010). "'Seabiscuit' author Hillenbrand back with true tale 'Unbroken'". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  9. ^ "The New Yorker magazine honored for CFIDS story". Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Winners & Finalists of National Magazine Awards". American Society of Magazine Editors. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Laura Hillenbrand (7 July 2003). "A Sudden Illness". The New Yorker in CFIDS Association archive. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  12. ^ Laura Hillenbrand (7 July 2003). "A Sudden Illness". The New Yorker. p. 56. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Lance Armstrong
William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner
Succeeded by
Donald McRae