Laura Hillenbrand was born in Fairfax, Virginia on May 15, 1967. She studied at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, but was forced to leave before graduation because she contracted chronic fatigue syndrome. She has been writing about history and thoroughbred racing since 1988 and has been a contributing writer and editor at Equus magazine since 1989. Her work has appeared in many other publications including The New Yorker, American Heritage, ABC Sports Online, Thoroughbred Times, Talk, and The Backstretch. Her 1998 American Heritage article on Seabiscuit won her an Eclipse Award for outstanding feature article. In 2004, she won the National Magazine Award for the New Yorker article, A Sudden Illness. Her first book Seabiscuit: An American Legend won the Book Sense Nonfiction Book of the Year Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 2001. She served as a consultant on the Universal Pictures movie Seabiscuit, which was based on her book. Her second book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, a biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini, was also made into a movie. She was honored by the Turf Publicists of America for her contributions to the sport of thoroughbred racing with the 36th annual Big Sport of Turfdom award, making her just the fifth woman to win the award.