A former book editor at the publishing company HarperCollins in New York, Hornfischer is president of Hornfischer Literary Management, a literary agency in Austin, Texas.
Hornfischer is a 1987 graduate of Colgate University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with high honors in German. He received a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001.
Hornfischer, a non-practicing member of the State Bar of Texas, is president of Hornfischer Literary Management, a literary agency in Austin, Texas, that represents authors of nonfiction books in a variety of subject areas, including current affairs, history, politics, biography, business, and popular science, among others. Clients include David Bellavia, James Bradley, H. W. Brands, Fred Burton, Susannah Charleson, Brandon Friedman, George Friedman, William H. Goetzmann, Don Graham, James L. Haley, Woody Holton, Annie Jacobsen, Governor Rick Perry, Ron Powers, Roy Spence, Barrett Tillman, Mark K. Updegrove, and others. He is a member of the Authors Guild and the Texas Institute of Letters, and serves on the advisory board of The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, sponsored by the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. He has written for Smithsonian, the Wall Street Journal, and other periodicals.
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour (Bantam hardcover, 2004; Bantam trade paperback, 2005) ISBN 0-553-80257-7
Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors (Bantam hardcover, 2006; Bantam trade paperback, 2007). ISBN 0-553-80390-5
Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal (Bantam hardcover, 2011). ISBN 978-0-553-80670-0
Service: A Navy SEAL at War with Marcus Luttrell (Little Brown hardcover, 2012). ISBN 978-0-316-18536-3
The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 (Bantam hardcover, Oct. 25, 2016). ISBN 978-0-345-54870-2
Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the Naval Order of the United States, for The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors
United States Maritime Literature Award, for Ship of Ghosts
In the media
Wall Street Journal review of Neptune's Inferno
Interview with James D. Hornfischer at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library
Hornfischer on Neptune's Inferno at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library
Publishers Weekly: "Writing About War: This Time It's Personal"