James Carroll (author)
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January 22, 1943 |
Chicago, Illinois United States
|Occupation||Former Catholic priest, novelist, journalist|
|Genre||Fiction, history, religion and politics|
James P. Carroll (born January 22, 1943, Chicago, Illinois, United States) is an American author, historian, and journalist. A Roman Catholic reformer, he has written extensively about his experiences in the seminary and as a priest, and has published, besides novels, books on religion and history.
Youth, education, and service as a priest
Carroll was born in Chicago, the second of five sons of late Air Force General Joseph Carroll (DIA), and his wife Mary. At the time, his father was a Special Agent of the FBI, which he remained until being seconded to, and later commissioned by, the US Air Force as an Intelligence Officer in 1948. After this, Carroll was raised in the Washington, D.C. area and in Germany. He was educated at Washington's Priory School (now St. Anselm's Abbey School) and at an American high school, the H. H. Arnold, in Wiesbaden, Germany. He attended Georgetown University before entering St. Paul's College, the Paulist Fathers' seminary, where he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. Carroll served as Catholic chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974. During that time, he studied poetry with George Starbuck and published books on religious subjects and a book of poems. He was also a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter (1972–1975) and was named Best Columnist by the Catholic Press Association. For his writing on religion and politics he received the first Thomas Merton Award from Pittsburgh's Thomas Merton Center in 1972. Carroll left the priesthood and the Paulist Fathers in 1974 to become a writer, and, in the same year, was a playwright-in-residence at the Berkshire Theater Festival. On May 20, 2013 he received the honorary Doctor of Letters from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Carroll's plays have been produced at the Berkshire Theater Festival and at Boston's Next Move Theater. In 1976 he published his first novel, Madonna Red, which was followed by nine others. He has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, and his op-ed column appears weekly in The Boston Globe. He won the 1996 National Book Award for Nonfiction for An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us, a memoir about the Vietnam War and his relationships with his father, the American military, and the Catholic Church. In an interview with the New York Times, Carroll explained why he wrote it: "I thought I would feel better. One of the effects of telling the story as I experienced it was for it to be redeemed, made meaningful. At the end, I found myself deeply in touch with the tragic aspect of the life we live. It's a highfalutin word, but there's something tragic to the story I told." Nevertheless, after completing it, he said, instead of feeling relief, "I put my head down, and I wept."
He is the author of other books on religion and politics, including House of War, which won the first PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for non-fiction. Mr. Carroll's other works include the novels Secret Father, The City Below, Memorial Bridge, Prince of Peace, Mortal Friends, and Madonna Red, in addition to various plays and Forbidden Disappointments, a book of poetry published in 1974. Carroll's work has received the Melcher Book Award, the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, and National Jewish Book Award in History, and has been frequently been named among the Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times.
Carroll has been a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at the Harvard Divinity School. He is a trustee of the Boston Public Library, a member of the Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University, and a member of the Dean's Council at the Harvard Divinity School. Carroll is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the Academy's Committee on International Security Studies. He worked on his 2006 history of the Pentagon, House of War, as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Academy. Carroll is also a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University in Boston, where he wrote his latest book, Practicing Catholic, published in 2009.
Carroll wrote a history of Christian, specifically Roman Catholic, anti-Semitism and treatment of Jews, titled Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews (2001). In this work, he connects many personal experiences, especially his boyhood trips to Catholic pilgrimage sites in the Rhineland, and as a seminarian and priest, to the places and events that he analyzes. The book was a New York Times Best Seller, although it got mixed reviews. The book also earned Carroll several accolades from national newspapers, including The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Practicing Catholic book
Carroll believes that the New Testament is clearly anti-Semitic and, therefore, caused anti-Jewish sentiment that, in turn, eventually evolved into the philosophies that created the Holocaust. Rather than arguing that bad Scriptural interpretation in the past was used by some to declare that all Jews shared the blame in the death of Jesus, Carroll would rather agree that this is the proper meaning of Scripture. It is not the belief of the Church, the New Testament, the Church centered in Jesus, the understanding that Christ died for the sins of mankind, that created the horror of the Holocaust. It was the rejection of those, and the attempt to substitute for Judeo-Christian civilization a secularist pseudo-scientism of race, class and nationalism that generated Nazism and the Holocaust.— Robert Lockwood, quoted in Catholic League Catalyst Online
Carroll married the novelist Alexandra Marshall in 1977. They have two grown children.
- Madonna Red (1976) (novel)
- Mortal Friends: A Novel (1978)
- Fault Lines (1980) (novel)
- Family Trade (1982) (novel)
- Prince of Peace (1984) (novel)
- Supply of Heroes (1986) (novel)
- Firebird (1989) (novel)
- Memorial Bridge (1991) (novel)
- The City Below (1994) (novel)
- An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us (1996)
- Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews – A History (2001). ISBN 978-0-395-77927-9
- Toward a New Catholic Church: The Promise of Reform (2002). ISBN 978-0-618-31337-2
- Secret Father: A Novel (2003). ISBN 978-0-618-15284-1
- Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War (2004). ISBN 978-0-8050-7843-5
- House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power (2006). ISBN 978-0-618-18780-5
- Practicing Catholic (2009). ISBN 978-0-618-67018-5
- Jerusalem, Jerusalem (2011). ISBN 978-0-547-54905-7
- Christ Actually (2014). ISBN 978-0-670-78603-9
- Caroll, James (December 23–30, 2013). "Profiles: Who am I to Judge?". The New Yorker 89 (42): 81–91. Retrieved 2014-10-14. Pope Francis's first year.
- Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History : A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia Volume 2, 2008, pg. 159, ed. James Patrick Byrne, Philip Coleman, and Jason Francis King
- House of War, p. 146 and passim
- "HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENTS NAMED". 4.lehigh.edu. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "1996 National Book Awards Winners and Finalists, The National Book Foundation". Nationalbook.org. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
- John Tagliabue, "Exorcising Demons From a Long-Ago War," New York Times, November 14, 1996, p. B1.
- "Book Reviews". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
- "Constantine's Sword Cinematic Debut". Catalyst Online. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. July–August 2007. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- James Carroll's website
- Website for the film, Constantine's Sword
- Voices on Antisemitism Interview with James Carroll from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- 'Present and Past', review of Toward a New Catholic Church in the Oxonian Review
- Houghton Mifflin's Biography
- Ploughshare's Biography
- PEN's Biography