March 25, 1946 |
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Occupation||novelist, film critic|
|Notable work(s)||Point of Impact (1993)|
|Notable award(s)||Pulitzer Prize for film criticism|
Life and career
Stephen Hunter was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in Evanston, Illinois. His father was Charles Francis Hunter, a Northwestern University speech professor who was killed in 1975. His mother was Virginia Ricker Hunter, a writer of children's books. After graduating from Northwestern in 1968 with a degree in journalism, he was drafted for two years into the United States Army serving a ceremonial soldier in The Old Guard (3rd Infantry Regiment) in Washington, D.C., and later wrote for a military paper, the Pentagon News.
He joined The Baltimore Sun in 1971, working at the copy desk of the newspaper's Sunday edition for a decade. He became its film critic in 1982, a post he held until moving to The Washington Post in the same function in 1997. In 1998 Hunter won the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award in the criticism category, and in 2003 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
Hunter's thriller novels include Point of Impact (filmed as Shooter), Black Light and Time to Hunt, which form a trilogy featuring Vietnam War veteran and sniper Bob "the Nailer" Swagger. The story of Bob Lee Swagger continued with The 47th Samurai (2007), Night of Thunder (2008), I, Sniper (2009) and Dead Zero (2010). The series has led to two spin-off series: Hot Springs, Pale Horse Coming, and Havana form another trilogy centered on Bob Swagger's father, Earl Swagger, while Soft Target (2011) focuses on Bob's long-unknown son, Ray Cruz.
Hunter has written three non-fiction books: Violent Screen: A Critic's 13 Years on the Front Lines of Movie Mayhem (1995), a collection of essays from his time at The Sun; American Gunfight (2005), an examination of the November 1, 1950 assassination attempt on Harry S. Truman at Blair House in Washington, D.C.; and Now Playing at the Valencia (2005), a collection of pieces from The Washington Post. Hunter has also written a number of non-film-related articles for The Post, including one on Afghanistan: "Dressed To Kill—From Kabul to Kandahar, It's Not Who You Are That Matters, but What You Shoot" (2001).
Hunter is a firearms enthusiast, well-known in the gun community for the careful, correct, and in-depth firearm detail in many of his works of fiction. He himself shoots as a hobby, saying "many people don't understand, shooting a firearm is a sensual pleasure that's rewarding in and of itself."
In an interview with NPR on February 16, 2011, in relation to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, Hunter defended the public availability of extended magazines and claimed it was not clear that the 33-round magazine used by the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, played a part in the incident. He had previously stated in his op-ed piece in The Washington Post that extended magazines are particularly valuable for the self-defense of women and the elderly, who he said could use them effectively as an alternative to semi-automatic rifles or shotguns. He points out that "women generally don't care to put in the training needed to master [rifles and shotguns]. Nor can the elderly handle [long guns] adeptly."
Bob Lee Swagger Series
- Point of Impact (1993)
- Black Light (1996)
- Time to Hunt (1998)
- The 47th Samurai (2007)
- Night of Thunder (2008)
- I, Sniper (2009)
- Dead Zero (2010)
- The Third Bullet (2013)
- Sniper's Honor (May 2014)
Earl Swagger Series
- Dead Zero (2010)
- Soft Target (2011)
- The Master Sniper (1980)
- The Second Saladin (1982)
- Target (film novelization) (1985)
- The Spanish Gambit (reissued as Tapestry of Spies) (1985)
- The Day Before Midnight (1989)
- Dirty White Boys (1994) This book is the prequel to events in Black Light (Bob Lee Swagger series)
- "Casey at the Bat" (2010) (in Agents of Treachery, edited by Otto Penzler)
- 1995 Violent Screen: A Critic's 13 Years on the Front Lines of Movie Mayhem
- 2005 Now Playing at the Valencia: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Essays on Movies
- 2005 American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman and the Shoot-out that Stopped It
- Gunslinger Stephen Hunter; Washingtonian.com, May 1, 2008. Accessed February 20, 2011
- Drinks, Shoots, and Seethes Baltimore Magazine, March 2009. Accessed February 20, 2011
- Dressed To Kill - From Kabul to Kandahar, It's Not Who You Are That Matters, but What You Shoot
- Tucson Shooting Renews Gun Control Debate, NPR, February 16, 2011. Accessed February 20, 2011
- Why 33 rounds makes sense in a defensive weapon, Washington Post, February 6, 2011. Accessed February 19, 2011