John Aloysius Farrell

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John Farrell at the 2012 National Book Festival

John Aloysius Farrell is an American author and biographer of the late House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and the great American 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. He is now at work on a biography of Richard Nixon for Random House, scheduled to be published in 2017.

On January 2, 2017, the New York Times reported that historian Farrell had found a memo written by Nixon aide H.R. Bob Haldeman that confirmed that Nixon himself had authorized "throwing a monkey wrench" into Lyndon Johnson's attempts to negotiate Peace in Vietnam.[1] Farrell's discovery earned praise from his peers.


John A. Farrell at the 2011 Texas Book Festival.

Born in Huntington, New York, Farrell graduated from the University of Virginia in 1975 before working at newspapers in Montgomery County, Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland. He was part of a team that won a George Polk award at The Denver Post, and he has received the Gerald Ford and Aldo Beckman prizes for his White House coverage, and the Raymond Clapper Award for Washington reporting while at The Boston Globe. While at the Globe, he also worked as an investigative reporter on the vaunted Spotlight team. His book on Tip O'Neill won the D.B. Hardeman Prize from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum for the year's best book on Congress.

Farrell won the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Biography) for Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned.

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 the television series The Irish in America.


  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.' 


  • Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century. Little, Brown, 2001.
  • Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned. Doubleday, 2011.
  • RICHARD NIXON: The Life Doubleday, 2017.

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