African-American author who is best known for his controversial novel, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, which focuses on the CIA's training of foreign groups. Greenlee's other works include Baghdad Blues and Ammunition!: Poetry and Other Raps.
After attending the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago, he joined the military. He served in the army from 1952 until 1954.
He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his bravery in Iraq.
He grew up in Chicago. With his wife Nienke, he had one daughter.
He and Gwendolyn Brooks were both Poet Laureates of Illinois.