Don Winslow Biography & Facts
Don Winslow (born October 31, 1953) is an American author best known for his award-winning and internationally bestselling crime novels, including Savages, The Force and the Cartel Trilogy.
Winslow has gained notoriety for producing a series of videos critical of Donald Trump and in support of various progressive causes and political candidates. Made with help from such public figures as Bruce Springsteen and Jeff Daniels, Winslow's videos have been viewed by over 250 million people.
Winslow was born on October 31, 1953, in New York City. He grew up in Perryville, a beach town near the village of Matunuck, Rhode Island. He credits his parents for preparing him to become a writer: his mother was a librarian and his father was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Navy who told stories and invited Navy friends around who told more. They inspired Winslow to become a storyteller himself. He majored in African history at the University of Nebraska. While in college, he traveled to southern Africa, sparking a lifelong involvement with that continent.
Winslow's travels took him to California, Idaho and Montana before he moved to New York City to become a writer, making his living as a movie theater manager and later a private investigator in Times Square – ‘before Mickey Mouse took it over’. He left to get a master's degree in military history and intended to go into the Foreign Service but instead joined a friend's photographic safari firm in Kenya. He led trips there as well as hiking expeditions in southwestern China, and later directed Shakespeare productions during summers in Oxford, England.
While traveling between Asia, Africa, Europe and America, Winslow wrote his first novel, A Cool Breeze On The Underground, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and a Shamus Award for Best First Novel. With a wife and young son, Winslow went back to investigative work, mostly in California, where he and his family lived in hotels for almost three years as he worked cases and became a trial consultant.
Winslow's second book, The Trail to Buddha’s Mirror, continued the Neal Carey saga. He followed that up with three more Neal Carey novels, Way Down on the High Lonely, for which he was a Dilys Award finalist, A Long Walk Up the Water Slide, and While Drowning in the Desert.
For his next novel, Winslow broke from the Neal Carey character to write the standalone Isle of Joy, about an ex-CIA agent who is pulled back into the world of espionage, this time as the target of his former agency and the FBI.
A film and publishing deal for his novel The Death and Life of Bobby Z, also a Barry Award finalist, for Best Novel, allowed Winslow to become a full-time writer and settle in his beloved California, the setting for many of his books.Branching into television, Winslow, with his friend and agent Shane Salerno, co-created the NBC television series UC/Undercover. The series ran one season and aired 13 episodes.Winslow then published the Shamus Award finalist California Fire and Life, and Looking for a Hero.In 2005, Winslow published what would become the first book in his epic “Cartel Trilogy,” The Power of the Dog, about obsessive DEA Agent Art Keller's quest to take down an El Chapo-esque Sinaloan cartel. The book earned rave reviews around the world and was a finalist for the Barry, Macavity, Hammett, and Dilys awards.Winslow then wrote The Winter of Frankie Machine, which garnered interest all over Hollywood and was eventually bought by Paramount Pictures for Robert De Niro to star in and Martin Scorsese to direct. During the development phase, screenwriter Eric Roth gave De Niro a book to read as research for the role. De Niro became so enthralled with that book – I Heard You Paint Houses – that he and Scorsese ended up adapting it into The Irishman. Winslow took it all in stride, even penning a humorous article on Deadline Hollywood jokingly titled “I Blame Eric Roth.”Winslow followed Frankie Machine with the first of his two Boone Daniels books, Dawn Patrol. Winslow was yet again a finalist for the Barry and Dilys Awards.In 2010, Winslow published Savages, which was voted a top-10 book of the year by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Chicago Sun Times, and author Stephen King, and was a Barry, Dilys, and Steel Dagger Award finalist. The rights were quickly scooped up by award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone. Winslow and Shane Salerno adapted the screenplay, and the film went on to star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta.
After Savages, Winslow returned to the world of ultra-California cool cop-turned-PI Boone Daniels in The Gentlemen’s Hour. The book was a 2010 finalist for the Gold Dagger Award.In 2011, Winslow wrote another standalone, Satori, a prequel to Trevanian’s 1979 novel Shibumi. Winslow again earned rave reviews from critics and colleagues alike. Satori was purchased by Warner Brothers and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way for DiCaprio to produce and star.The following year, Winslow returned to the world of Savages, writing the prequel The Kings of Cool. Yet again, his book was a Gold Dagger finalist for Best Crime Novel of the Year.2012 also saw Winslow given the prestigious Raymond Chandler Award, Italy's top lifetime achievement honor for masters of the thriller and noir literary genre. Past recipients have included Stephen King, John Le Carré, John Grisham, and Elmore Leonard.
In 2015, Winslow published the second book in his Cartel Trilogy, The Cartel. The book was an international success, earning starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal, landing on Best Books of the Year lists for over sixty publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, and many others. Fellow novelists Stephen King, Michael Connelly, James Ellroy, and Harlan Coben also raved about The Cartel, naming it one of Winslow's best. The book went on to win the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, the RBA International Prize for Crime Writing, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize.For his follow up the smash hit The Cartel, Winslow wrote another standalone, The Force, tackling corruption in the deepest recesses of the NYPD. The Force was another smashing success and named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, NPR, Barnes & Noble, Publishers Weekly, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail, Booklist, and LitHub. In a seven-figure deal, Fox purchased the film rights for James Mangold to direct Matt Damon in a script adapted by award-winning screenwriter Scott Frank.
In 2019, Winslow published the third and final installment of his epic Cartel Trilogy, The Border. Critics raved about the conclusion to the sprawling saga and it was named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, The Guardian, The Fin.... Discover the Don Winslow popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Don Winslow books.