Stuart Woods was born Stuart Lee in Manchester, Georgia, in 1938. A pivotal event in his adolescence was finding a chief-of-police badge in his grandmother’s closet. According to Woods, it was dented by buckshot and spattered with dried blood. It belonged to his grandfather, who was wearing it when he was shot to death on duty ten years before Woods was born. The story of his grandfather influenced the premise of the novel Chiefs and provided the framework for the character William Henry Lee, Sr. Georgia, his home state, has been the setting for many of his novels and is mentioned in most of them. His hometown provided the setting of the fictional town Delano.
Woods majored in sociology at the University of Georgia and served in the Air National Guard in the early 1960’s. He spent ten months of his year of service in Mannheim, Germany, during the Berlin Wall Crisis. During the rest of the 1960’s, he worked as an advertising agent in New York, and at the end of that decade, he moved to London, where he worked quite successfully in advertising and copy writing. Despite his career choices up to that point, he had not forgotten about the chief-of-police badge and the novel that had been brewing inside him, so in 1973 he decided to move to Ireland to write his novel. It is not clear why he chose to move to Ireland, but he found a peaceful place to begin writing while working part-time at an ad agency.
Although he was in a position to...
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