Greenhaw survived a bout with polio which caused curvature of the spine. He underwent surgery to correct the condition at age 14, confining him to a body cast for six months. He became a voracious reader during his long recovery and, after graduating high school in Tuscaloosa in 1959, traveled to Mexico to participate in a writer's workshop at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He took a part-time job as a sports reporter for the Tuscaloosa News and soon became a columninst for Graphics Weekly. He completed a bachelor of science at the University of Alabama in 1966. His first novel, The Golfer, was published in 1968.
As a journalist in the 1960s, Greenhaw covered Alabama politics and the Civil Rights Movement for the Alabama Journal and Montgomery Advertiser. His stories ran nationally in The New York Times and other outlets. In 1973 he was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University for breaking the story of the My Lai massacre in Viet Nam. He and another fellow led a seminar in Southern politics at the Kennedy Institute that Spring.
In the 1980s, Greenhaw became the editor and publisher of Alabama magazine while contributing columns to state newspapers. In 1993 he was appointed director of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel and served on the advisory committee for the Alabama Film Commission and on the board of the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
Greenhaw authored 22 books and two plays. His last book, Fighting the Devil in Dixie (2011) recalls his years on the Civil Rights beat in the 1960s and 70s. He was still working on a novel, Call of the Whippoorwill, which he had begun long before with editorial assistance from Harper Lee.
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1967) The Golfer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: J. B. Lippincott
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1971) The Making of a Hero: The Story of Lieut. William Calley, Jr. Louisville, Kentucky: Touchstone Publishers
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1976) Watch Out for George Wallace. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1981) Elephants in the Cottonfields: Ronald Reagan and the New Republican South. New York: Macmillan
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1984) Flying High: Inside Big-Time Drug Smuggling. New York: Dodd Mead
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1986) Alabama On My Mind. Montgomery: Sycamore Press
- Greenhaw, Wayne and Kathy Holland (1990) Montgomery: Center Stage in the South. Los Angeles, California: Windsor Publications
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1991) Tombigbee. Montgomery: Sycamore Press
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1993) Montgomery: The Biography of a City. Montgomery: Montgomery Advertiser
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1994) King of Country. Montgomery: Black Belt Press
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1998) Alabama: Portrait of a State. Montgomery: Black Belt Press
- Greenhaw, Wayne (1999) Beyond the Night. Montgomery: Black Belt Press
- Greenhaw, Wayne (2000) Alabama: A State of Mind. Montgomery: Community Publications
- Greenhaw, Wayne (2001) My Heart is in the Earth: True Stories of Alabama and Mexico. Montgomery: River City Publishing
- Greenhaw, Wayne (2002) The Long Journey. Montgomery: River City Publishing
- Greenhaw, Wayne (2002) Montgomery: The River City. Montgomery: River City Publishing
- Greenhaw, Wayne (2003) The Spider's Web. Montgomery: River City Publishing
- Williams, Donnie and Wayne Greenhaw (2005) The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People Who Broke the Back of Jim Crow. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press
- Greenhaw, Wayne (2007) Ghosts in the Road: Poems of Alabama and Mexico. Montgomery: River City Publishing
- Greenhaw, Wayne (2011) Fighting the Devil in Dixie: How Civil Rights Activists Took on the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books ISBN 9781569763452
- Dixon, Joyce (2001) "My Heart Is In The Earth: An Interview with Author Wayne Greenhaw." Southern Scribe
- Best, Ricky, and Jason Kneip (2005) "Guide to the Papers of Wayne Greenhaw". Auburn University Montgomery Library Archives & Special Collections
- Gamble, Danny (Spring 2006) "The Montgomery-San Miguel Express." First Draft, p. 4-5
- Benn, Alvin (May 31, 2011) "Alabama author Wayne Greenhaw dies." Montgomery Advertiser
- Cole, Barry M. (May 31, 2011) "Wayne Greenhaw" Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed May 31, 2011