Stuart Woods was born in the small southern town of Manchester, Georgia and attended the local public schools, then graduated from the University of Georgia, with a BA in sociology. He doesn't remember why.
After college, he spent a year in Atlanta and two months in basic training for what he calls "the draft-dodger program" of the Air National Guard. Then, in the autumn of 1960, he moved to New York, in search of a writing job. The magazines and newspapers weren't hiring, so he got a job in a training program at an advertising agency, earning seventy dollars a week.