James D. Hornfischer’s books have led reviewers to rate him as one of the most commanding naval historians writing today. His awards include the 2018 Samuel Eliot Morison Award, given by the Board of Trustees of the USS Constitution Museum for work that “reflects the best of Admiral Morison: artful scholarship, patriotic pride, an eclectic interest in the sea and things maritime, and a desire to preserve the best of our past for future generations.”
His most recent book is “The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944–1945”. Recipient of the Navy League’s 2017 Commodore John Barry Book Award, it is a major narrative of the U.S. Navy’s Central Pacific drive in World War II, covering the air, land and sea operations that seized the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Guam, as well as the strategic air operations conducted from the Marianas that ended the war.
Hornfischer’s “Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal” (2011), a New York Times bestseller, was chosen as a best book of the year by numerous book reviews. “Ship of Ghosts” (2006) told the story of the cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) and the odyssey of its crew in Japanese captivity. “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” (2004), a combat narrative about the Battle off Samar, received the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the Naval Order of the United States and was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of the five best books on “war as soldiers know it” and by Naval History magazine as one of “a dozen Navy classics.” Hornfischer has also collaborated with Marcus Luttrell, the bestselling author of “Lone Survivor,” on Luttrell’s second autobiography, “Service: A Navy SEAL at War” (2012).
All of Hornfischer’s books have been selections of the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program, managed by the office of the Chief of Naval Operations and the U.S. Naval War College. He is a regular contributor for the Wall Street Journal and has written for Smithsonian, Naval History, Naval Institute Proceedings, and other periodicals. He has lectured at the U.S. Naval Academy, Marine Corps University at Quantico, the National WWII Museum, the National Museum of the Pacific War, and other venues. He serves on the board of the Naval Historical Foundation.
Hornfischer’s motivation to write about the U.S. military reaches back to his childhood, from his explorations of his elementary school library’s 940.54 Dewey Decimal section, building Monogram and Revell model ships and aircraft, watching “Baa Baa Black Sheep” on NBC (sublimely ahistorical but redeemed by Robert Conrad’s winning portrayal of Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington of VMF-214), and absorbing the epic intonations of Sir Laurence Olivier in “The World at War” on PBS.
A native of Massachusetts, Hornfischer is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Colgate University (international relations and German) and holds a degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and their children.