Sunday, March 1, 2020

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Stephen Hunter, Guns And His Bob Lee Swagger Character


The Washington Times published my On Crime column on Stephen Hunter, guns and his Bob Lee Swagger character.

I recently watched a portion of a poor thriller on TV. I was compelled to switch channels when during a gunfight in the film I spotted at least four serious errors involving the use of firearms.

Although I’m military-trained and I’ve owned and shot guns nearly all my life, I’m not an expert on firearms in the way that Stephen Hunter, the author of the Bob Lee Swagger thrillers, certainly is.

Mr. Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger, known as “Bob the Nailer,” a legendary Marine sniper who served in the Vietnam War and later becomes involved with criminal and national security plots, is a wonderful character and he appears in a fine series of thrillers. But I especially like that Mr. Hunter always portrays and uses guns accurately in his novels.

In his last Bob Lee Swagger novel, “Game of Snipers,” which I reviewed in these pages in August, the elderly character came up against a younger and equally skilled terrorist sniper.

Swagger has been portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the film “Shooter” and Ryan Phillippe in the TV series, but if the novels had been written decades earlier, the tall and lean Swagger would perhaps have been better portrayed by Clint Eastwood or Chuck Connors, who portrayed a Western character wielding a modified Winchester in the TV series “The Rifleman.”     

Like his father, Earl, a WWII Medal of Honor winner and Arkansas state trooper, and his grandfather, Charles, a WWI hero and Arkansas sheriff, Swagger is a rugged individual with a strong sense of justice and honor.

I recall asking Stephen Hunter about Bob Lee Swagger. “Swagger was originally modeled on an actual Marine sniper named Carlos Hathcock, but at a certain point he was too much like Carlos and the character didn’t have any independent life, so there was a concentrated effort to disconnect him from Carlos and part of that was building up in my mind a family history,’ Mr. Hunter replied. 

“I wanted to know more about the Swaggers. I wrote all these books about West Arkansas. One thing led to another and the books did well, and I found an almost pleasure in writing them. It took off on its own."

You can read the rest of the column below or via the below link:


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