If you are knowledgeable about firearms and enjoy good fiction, you know how little of the latter embraces the former. This is why novelist and movie critic Stephen Hunter’s series about gun-wise protagonists, two generations of a Southern-bred military family, have become so hugely popular among us “gun people.”

My own favorites in the series include “Dirty White Boys,” “Hot Springs,” and “Pale Horse Coming.” The latter uses the device of real characters with slightly altered names when mid-20th Century lawman Earl Swagger assembles the great gun experts of the period as a posse seeking justice in the Deep South.

Hunter does something similar in his latest in the series as Swagger’s son, retired Vietnam era super-sniper Bob Lee Swagger, decides that it’s once again “time to hunt.”

Suppose that someone murdered lefty icons such as Jane Fonda, Bernardine Dohrn, and Bill Ayers with a high-powered rifle from long distance. Suppose the quintessential Marine Sniper, Carlos Hathcock, was still alive and framed for the murders, then murdered himself?
And suppose Bob Lee Swagger joined up with real-life Marine sniper Chuck Mawhinney to right the wrong?
And suppose it all wrapped up to the tune of Marty Robbins’ classic cowboy ballad, “Big Iron”?

That’s what you’re looking at in the latest novel in Hunter’s series, “I, Sniper.”

And, best of all, Stephen Hunter’s masterful writing and plotting craftsmanship allows it to happen within that rarely achieved “willing suspension of disbelief,” which is exponentially harder to achieve when technical devices and protocols are involved, and when the audience knows those devices and protocols.

The novel’s title is a play on words that derives from a piece of gear that is a key to the plot: “iSniper.” Though there’s a computer game of that name, in the book it’s a sophisticated, computerized telescopic sight that’s only a few years out from actually existing at the level it does in the novel.Clearly, Brother Hunter has done his homework.

Hie yourself hence to the bookstore and reserve yourself a copy of “I, Sniper” by Stephen Hunter via Simon & Schuster. I’ve just finished reading an advance proof copy, and I have to say it’s the best fiction I’ve read this year.



  1. Mas,
    You’re a treasure for Backwoods Home. Thanks for blogging and writing when you can.

    I just discovered Stephen Hunter was a novelist (flipping through the “making of” segments of the movie, “The Shooter.”) I have quite a bit more catching up reading to when the winter winds start to blow. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. I’ve read all his prior writings and will certainly be looking forward to this new one. I’m fortunate in that both I and my wife enjoy the same types or books, so in a way it cuts the cost in half.

    If I recall correctly, the first Hunter book I read was “The Master Sniper” and I’ve fully enjoyed every one since. You want to read and see what happens, but are always disappointed to reach the end.

    Thanks for the heads up Mas.

  3. Mas,

    Thanks for the suggestion and will definitely check out the series. As I read your e-mail though your favorite book titles from the series struck me more as porn titles then good fiction.

  4. Thanks for the heads up, Mas. I, too, am a huge fan of Mr. Hunter’s work. Can’t wait to get my hand on this one.

  5. MAS,

    If I, SNIPER can beat PALE HORSE COMING, it will be one of the best action novels written. I discovered Stephen HUNTER when I bought an audio book version of HOT SPRINGS. I have been hooked ever since.

    I loved his description of the Charles ASKINS and Bill JORDAN clone characters. I read the last 200 pages straight through and loved it.


  6. Stephen Hunter sure had the near-certain scenario of how those Somali pirates were killed by the SEAL snipers solid. Amazingly enough, the Washington Post ran it!

  7. The thing about the Bob Lee Swagger series that doesn’t jive is why he uses a Mini-14. 🙂 (I have one, and I enjoy it. But I know its limitations.)

  8. My brother in law would appreciate this blog post. We were not too long ago discussing about this. lol

  9. I have enjoyed all of Hunter’s books, Mr Ayoob’s as well, do yourself a favor and read the non-fiction work, American Gunfight.

    A good read.

  10. I enjoyed Stephen Hunter’s latest book I, Sniper. In some ways he is like Tom Clancy with the technical stuff on shooting. His put down of the news media is a hoot in this book. He even mentioned you Mr. Ayoob at one point.

  11. Help! Just got through reading Point of Impact. I was told that the next book to read is Black Light. Is that correct? Does anyone know the order to read this series?

  12. Hi Vic, don’t know if you’re still interested, but this is the order of the Swagger books:

    Point of Impact
    Dirty White Boys(it leads up to Black Light)
    Black Light
    Time to Hunt
    The 47th Samurai
    I, Sniper
    Dead Zero

    and then the prequel novels about his father Earl:

    Hot Springs
    Pale Horse Coming

  13. When will your next book come out? I have read all your books and can’t wait for your next one. I have heard it will be in 2013?