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Tony Hillerman
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Author
    (May 27, 1925-October 26, 2008)
    Born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma
    Mystery novelist best known for his series of stories featuring Navajo Tribal Policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee
    Titles include 'The Blessing Way' (1970), 'Dance Hall of the Dead' (1973), 'Listening Woman' (1978), 'People of Darkness' (1980), 'Skinwalkers' (1986), 'A Thief of Time' (1988), 'Coyote Waits' (1990), 'The Fallen Man' (1996), 'The First Eagle' (1998), 'Hunting Badger' (1999), 'Skeleton Man' (2004) and 'The Shape Shifter' (2006)
    Also wrote the children's books 'The Boy Who Made Dragonfly' (1972) and 'Buster Mesquite's Cowboy Band' (1973) and the memoir 'Seldom Disappointed' (2001)
    His first job after college was writing ad copy for Purina Pig Chow.
    He said he initially wanted to 'write War and Peace in Pottawatomie County,' but 'I'd never written anything longer than 800 words, so I thought I'd write a mystery. It has shape and it's shorter.'
    He was accused by some critics of 'humorless moralizing' in his depictions of Navajo culture.
    He said, 'When I'm driving, I'm thinking about how to use what I'm seeing on the street in a plot.... It causes me to run red lights sometimes.'
    He earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, and Purple Heart during World War II.
    His wartime letters home to his mother were read by a newspaper reporter who said he showed promise as a writer.
    He was married to Marie Unzner for 60 years until his death.
    He named a Special Friend of the Dineh by the Navajo Tribal Council.
    He said, 'Good reviews delight me when I get them. But I am far more delighted by by being voted the most popular author by the students of St. Catherine Indian school, and even more by middle-aged Navajo who tell me that reading my mysteries revived their children's interest in the Navajo Way.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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