Stephen Hunter was born on March 25, 1946, in Kansas City, Missouri. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1968. He spent two years in the United States Army as a ceremonial soldier in Washington, D.C., and later wrote for a military paper, the Pentagon News. In 1971, he joined The Baltimore Sun as a copy editor and he became its film critic in 1982. He won the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award in the criticism category in 1998 and the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2003. He is the author of several books including The Master Sniper, The Second Saladin, Dirty White Boys, and Soft Target. He is also the author of the Bob Lee Swagger series and the Earl Swagger series. He has written non-fiction books including Violent Screen: A Critic's 13 Years on the Front Lines of Movie Mayhem, American Gunfight, and Now Playing at the Valencia.