John A. Farrell

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John A. Farrell
John Farrell at the 2012 National Book Festival
John Farrell at the 2012 National Book Festival
Alma materUniversity of Virginia

John Aloysius Farrell is an American author. He has written biographies of U.S. President Richard Nixon, House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, and defense attorney Clarence Darrow. He is a former White House correspondent and Washington editor for The Boston Globe and a former Washington bureau chief and columnist for The Denver Post.

On January 2, 2017, the New York Times reported that historian Farrell had unearthed notes written by Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman, which confirmed that Nixon personally authorized "throwing a monkey wrench" into Lyndon Johnson's attempts to negotiate peace in Vietnam on the eve of the 1968 election. In his famous interviews with newsman David Frost, and elsewhere, Nixon had always denied any participation in what history has come to call the Chennault Affair - after Anna Chennault, the Nixon campaign's go-between with South Vietnam.[1] Farrell's discovery earned praise from his peers.

On April 16, 2018 the Pulitzer Prize board announced that Richard Nixon: The Life was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Biography.

On April 13, 2018, the New-York Historical Society awarded Farrell the title of "American Historian Laureate," and presented him with the $50,000 Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History for Richard Nixon: The Life.


John A. Farrell at the 2011 Texas Book Festival.

Born in Huntington, New York, Farrell graduated from the University of Virginia "With Distinction" in 1975[citation needed] before working at newspapers in Montgomery County, Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland. While at the Globe, he also worked as an investigative reporter on the vaunted Spotlight team.

Excerpts of his work have been published in Jack Beatty's collection Pols: Great Writers on American Politicians from Bryan to Reagan, and in Leadership for the Public Service by Richard A. Loverd. Farrell was a contributor, as well, to The Boston Globe's 2004 biography of U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry.

Farrell is an on-camera commentator in the PBS American Experience documentaries "Jimmy Carter" and "The Perfect Crime," a study of the Leopold and Loeb thrill-killers case, and in the television series The Irish in America.

Awards and honors[edit]


  • Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century. Little, Brown, 2001. ISBN 9780316185707, OCLC 50513431
  • Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned. Doubleday, 2011. ISBN 9781921844256, OCLC 904728121
  • Richard Nixon: The Life. Doubleday, 2017. ISBN 9780345804969, OCLC 989962433[5][6]


  1. ^ Peter Baker (2017-01-02). "Nixon Tried to Spoil Johnson's Vietnam Peace Talks in '68, Notes Show". New York Times. p. A11. Retrieved 2017-01-04. Ken Hughes, a researcher at the Miller Center of the University of Virginia, who in 2014 published 'Chasing Shadows,' a book about the episode, said Mr. Farrell had found a smoking gun. 'This appears to be the missing piece of the puzzle in the Chennault affair,' Mr. Hughes said. The notes 'show that Nixon committed a crime to win the presidential election.'
  2. ^ John Maher (February 21, 2018). "Long Soldier, Zhang, Le Guin Win At 2018 PEN Literary Awards". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  3. ^ "The 2018 PEN America Literary Awards Winners". PEN America. February 20, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  4. ^ Porter Anderson (January 31, 2018). "Industry Notes: PEN America's Finalists". Publishing Perspectives. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  5. ^ "'Nixon: The Life' Humanizes — But Doesn't Rehabilitate". Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  6. ^ Senior, Jennifer (2017-03-29). "'Richard Nixon,' Portrait of a Thin-Skinned, Media-Hating President". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-26.

External links[edit]