"John A. Farrell narrates this story with punch and insight...the best one-volume, cradle-to-grave biography that we could expect about such a famously elusive subject. By employing recently released government documents and oral histories, he adds layers of understanding to a complex man and his dastardly decisions." Aram Goudsouzian, The Washington Post.
"John A. Farrell has once again delivered a rich, precisely written portrait of the past to help us understand the present. He traces the origins and turning points of one of the most complex, complicated and fascinating presidents of the modern age with flair and narrative skill. Each page is a joy to read." - John Dickerson, CBS News.
"Richard Nixon's political career has all the nooks and crannies of an English muffin: the red-baiting of the early campaigns; Checkers; the Great Debates of 1960; the comeback in '68; the inheritance and horror of Vietnam; the historic opening to China; the shame of Watergate. In Richard Nixon, John A. Farrell is tough and unyielding, yet gives his subject a fair hearing through each gripping episode. `I'm not a quitter,' Nixon once protested, and this grand, indispensable book proves him right, right to the end." - Chris Matthews.
"Farrell skillfully revisits Richard Nixon's long political career in this history of American politics from the postwar period through his resignation as president in 1974. Farrell, an exceptional writer, examines both minor anecdotes and Nixon's world-altering choices to illuminate his fundamental and contradictory qualities: a mixture of intelligence, ambition, insecurity, paranoia and deviousness: all put in service to great success and catastrophic failure.....It may not have been Farrell's intent to produce a cautionary tale about the dangers of a presidency run aground on lies, paranoia, prejudices and delusion, but that's what he's accomplished." - Publishers Weekly
"Confirmation of Nixon's meddling in Johnson’s peace efforts is the … news that “Richard Nixon” breaks. But startling revelations are hardly the only criterion for a good Nixon biography. He’s an electrifying subject, a muttering Lear, of perennial interest to anyone with even an average curiosity about politics or psychology. The real test of a good Nixon biography ... is far simpler: Is it elegantly written? And, even more important, can it tolerate paradoxes and complexity, the spikier stuff that distinguishes real-life sinners from comic-book villains? The answer, in the case of “Richard Nixon,” is yes, on both counts." - Jennifer Senior, The New York Times.
"Though there have been many previous books about Nixon, Mr. Farrell's comprehensive, one-volume biography is welcome...In lively, vigorous prose, he takes readers through Nixon's career, offfering incisive judgments and revealing details along the way." - Robert K. Landers, Wall Street Journal.
"Mr. Farrell has captured and conveyed the essential Nixon in an elegantly written, expertly researched, commanding and compelling rise and fall narrative. His Richard Nixon is the best biography of our 37th president we have, or are likely to have." - Glenn Altschuler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"Farrell describes the tragedy and its resolution in terms that are disinterested without being uninteresting. As Nixon and his enemies fade from the newspapers to the history books, we begin to reach the point where biographers can achieve a synthesis, discarding the more extreme claims of Nixon fans and Nixon haters alike. Richard Nixon: The Life is a readable, fair-minded example of this." - Kyle Sammin, The Weekly Standard.
"Bombshell stuff... one of the book's many revelations. Pulling from recently uncovered diaries, secret reports, and the recorded words of everyone...with a mix of morbid fascination and deep empathy, Farrell humanizes Nixon, but he doesn't let him off the hook...That dichotomy between brooding schemer and extroverted leader has long defined the Nixon dynamic. But withThe Life, Farrell has etched those history-shaking contradictions into the most vivid — and the most startling — relief to date." - Jason Heller, NPR.
"John A. Farrell's Richard Nixon: The Life is an expertly written and strikingly comprehensive portrait of America's most complicated president. Farrell has a genius for the telling anecdote and apropos quote. His command of the sources is staggering. Richard Nixon is a true landmark achievement." - Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of Cronkite.
"A probing biography...Readers track the lonely and hard-won ascent of a sickly, love-starved child, who dreams like a Romantic but maneuvers like Machiavelli...An unflinching portrait." - Booklist, starred review.
"Jack Farrell gives us two profoundly resonant Richard Nixons - the last progressive Republican, and the author of our national divisions. He also gives us, in one engrossing volume, the defining biography of our darkest president." - Larry Tye, author of Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon.
"With clarity and verve, John A. Farrell's deft pen illuminates the life of America's 37th president. Unsparing yet fair-minded in its analysis and based on deep research in a wealth of archival and published sources, Richard Nixon is a fast-moving and penetrating portrait of this controversial and complicated man." - Fredrik Logevall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Embers of War.
"Nixon scholars called Mr. Farrell’s discovery a breakthrough. Robert Dallek, an author of books on Nixon and Johnson, said the notes “seem to confirm suspicions” of Nixon’s involvement in violation of federal law. Evan Thomas, the author of “Being Nixon,” said Mr. Farrell had “nailed down what has been talked about for a long time.” - The New York Times, "Nixon Tried to Spoil Johnson's Vietnam Peace Talks in '68, Notes Show," by Peter Baker, Jan. 2, 2017
Reviews of Clarence Darrow
The New York Times chose Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011.
"Great storytelling is an essential element of the best biographies and John Farrell tells his Attorney for the Damned extremely well. Writing smoothly and vividly, while making judicious use of new archival material, Farrell gives us a balanced portrait of the private and public Clarence Darrow whose flaws make his struggles for freedom, civil rights and liberty that much more admirable. Farrell's lacing of the events during Darrow's life also reveals a story that is amazingly relevant in 2012." - The judges' citation, when naming Darrow the winner of the Los Angeles Times prize for the best biography of 2011.
"Vintage Darrow...inspiring, enraging, and in Farrell's engrossing biography, marvelously alive." - Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice, in the New York Times book review.
"John Farrell's Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned is a riveting historical drama filled with strange twists and turns. Every page is a triumph of scholarship. A marvelous biography!" —Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.
"People want heroes. But history demands truth. This gritty biography demystifies a deeply flawed legal hero, who `almost assuredly' bribed jurors and witnesses in order to level the playing field against `the rich and powerful.' Darrow was a giant of his corrupt times. His biography is a must read for all Americans who care about both the means and ends of justice!" —Alan M. Dershowitz, author of The Trials of Zion.
"It is almost impossible to conceive how so much living could have come in just one life, and Jack Farrell's masterful new biography makes Clarence Darrow come alive. This is a wonderful, at times heart-pounding story, which is told with precision, sympathy, and insight." —Ken Burns.
"John A. Farrell, with access to previously unavailable materials, brings the “grandest legal career in American history’’ to life again in a masterfully researched and elegantly written volume." - The Boston Globe.
"Clarence Darrow confounded titles: he was a freethinker, hedonist, anarchist, populist, infidel, cynic and master storyteller who became our greatest lawyer and a folk hero. Farrell's masterful, sweeping new biography not only does justice to all his roles but joyously satisfies even a Darrow addict like me." —Roy Black, Esq., criminal defense attorney.
"This book is a joy and revelation. It is at once a rollicking tour through the mind of a legal genius and a spellbinding account of some of the most famous cases in American history. The chapter on Leopold and Loeb alone is worth waiting in line to get a seat in Jack Farrell's courtroom." —David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered and They Marched into Sunlight.
"I just finished John Farrell's new biography, Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, and can't recommend it highly enough. Masterful. I hated for it to end." - Gary Delsohn, author of The Prosecutors.
"John A. Farrell, in Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, goes farther into the archives and deeper into Darrow's crags, to offer this: `He did not believe in free will, nor good and evil, nor choice. There were no moral absolutes, no truth, and no justice. There was only mercy.' You can count on that." - The New Yorker
"Farrell, whose storytelling matches his academic rigor and narrative skills, has produced a biography of Darrow that captures his brilliance and charisma, his flaws and contradictions....Farrell blends the story of the man and his times seamlessly, sets the stage for Darrow's courtroom highlights with almost cinematic descriptions, and lets the lawyer's words cary the narrative." - Miami Herald
"Storytelling is the essential element of any good biography, and Mr. Farrell tells this story well, writing smoothly and vividly. Elements that are not relevant are ruthlessly discarded, thereby avoiding a crushing litany of facts. And while atmospheric details can be created in fiction, in biography it only emerges from research...and his footnotes attest to that. Attorney for the Damned is a well-balanced portrait of the private and public Darrow, giving the sweep of his life and times. The story of Darrow's life retained my interest even though I have read it many times before, and I know the Scopes trial by heart. The cases that made Darrow famous - his defense of Eugene Debs, Leopold and Loeb, Ossian Sweet and the famous Scopes Monkey Trial - are all here. Some of Darrow's most triumphant closing arguments are quoted. The rolling cadence of Darrow's language and his passion ring from the page - thrilling music, oratory at its best....Turn to his speeches on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the Constitution, delivered during 1919 at the height of the Red Scare...and you will find yourself feeling more proud to be an American than on the Fourth of July." - Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, author of Mencken: The American Iconoclast, in The Washington Times.
"A comprehensive biography of the storied defense attorney...Making elaborate use of transcripts, observers' accounts, correspondence and newspaper reports, Farrell chronicles Darrow's most celebrated trials in detail...Farrell neatly places Darrow's trials within the larger context of this complicated man's crowded life and practice...A warts-and-all portrait that leaves readers lamenting Darrow's private failings, while still in awe of his immensely consequential career." - Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, signifying books of "remarkable merit."
"A masterful new biography....Farrell expertly presents all the drama and passion....Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned is a riveting piece of work and certain to be one of the most fascinating biographies of this or any other year." - The Daily Beast"Attorney for the Damned is a big book, very capably, oftentimes eloquently, written....Farrell is...cinematic in re-creating vivid scenes and personalities. Darrow, first and last, is a great character - a protagonist as large and as flawed as any figure from literature." - The Kansas City Star
"Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned is inpeccably researched, beautifully written, and timely...Farrell gives us Darrow in all his brilliance, hypocrisy, and eccentricity....As Farrell's riveting biography makes abundantly clear, there was no more powerful and incendiary thunderbolt than Clarence Darrow." -San Francisco Chronicle
"A clear-sighted, empathetic biography....[Farrell] knows that he has a protagonist of Shakespearean richness and complexity, and this well-written, vividly atmospheric portrait captures Clarence Darrow with his faults and contradictions intact." - Los Angeles Times
Reviews of Tip O'Neill
"Three of the best books about American politics in the 20th century are novels: Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, Edwin O'Conor's The Last Hurrah, Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. Farrell's Tip O'Neill will go nicely on a shelf with those three." —Peter Jay, The Washington Times
"In Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century, Jack Farrell has captured the larger than life quality of his subject brilliantly. The stories are fabulous and the writing is first-rate. The reader will love this reminder of a time when politics was fun and politicians were large and colorful." - Doris Kearns Goodwin
"This rich and perceptive biography opens a wonderful window on American politics in the 20th century." - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
"Farrell's work is meticulously documented; his writing lucid, cogent, and frequently eloquent; and he has gone to considerable lengths to ensure completeness of the historical record in a warts-and-all presentation." - The New York Times (read the full review).
"Farrell's biography of Thomas P. `Tip' O'Neill is much like the subject itself: large, rambling, sentimental and thoroughly fascinating....With wonderful detail - from describing ward politics in Boston to deal making in Congress - O'Neill's story is also the story of America in the past half-century, and the tale is thoroughly mesmerizing." - Publishers Weekly
"I read this book through a six-hour delay at LaGuardia followed by a transcontinental flight, and as my plane made its descent into San Francisco, I wished I were continuing to Hawaii. A longtime Democratic congressman from Boston, Speaker of the House during the Carter and Reagan years, Thomas P. `Tip' O'Neill, on John Farrell's prodigious showing, was among the great public men of the postwar era. He was easily the most beloved." - The Atlantic Monthly, Jack Beatty
"This is the fascinating story of an old-fashioned Democrat who rose through the turbulent religious and racial politics of Massachusetts to serve as a strong and compassionate leader of a beleaguered Democratic Party. An immensely knowledgeable journalist, Jack Farrell offers us a rich and readable portrait of the man and his times." - James MacGregor Burns
"This is must reading for Washington insiders, for political junkies and for almost everybody." - Gordon Peterson
"A fascinating portrait of power....Garrulously readable." - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Compelling....This biography is as good as it gets....It's as readable as the latest crime novel by Boston writers George V. Higgins or Dennis Lehane." - The Hill
"Anyone who thinks the writing of biographies a declining art will be buoyed by the appearance of John Aloysius Farrell's monumental study of legendary Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill....Farrell attempts, as his title suggests, both to tell the story of an important and colorful political figure and to recapture the spirit of the times in which he made his mark. He succeeds at both tasks remarkabley well, and he tells his tale with a vividness that enables his readers almost to see O'Neill work the ethnic wards of Boston and Cambridge, and to hear the roar of rallies and the clacking of chips at the speaker's poker table." - The Weekly Standard
"Masterful....Farrell expertly explains O'Neill's steady rise through state and national politics....He presents O'Neill as worthy of admiration, not canonization." - The Washington Post
"A fine biography....The reader experiences the full flow of American political history from Roosevelt through Reagan." - The Boston Globe
"Penetrating and entertaining....The volume's 700-plus pages encompass a great deal of complicated history, and Farrell records it with economy and grace....This is not a typical biography, but more panoramic production, a newsreel of nearly three-quarters of the last century. We see Tip O'Neill compete with the startling events of his time, events he influenced, or observed from the inside....Farrell's book is popular history, but of a superior sort. Through the person of O'Neill he makes the nuts and bolts of governing, at both eht state and national level, fascinating and understandable.....Whether the 21st century becomes a Republican century may depend on whether the lessons found within Farrell's book are taken to heart by the Democratic Party." - Chicago Sun-Times
"Farrell's imporessive, fair-minded book is full of vivid stories about the old-style politics of Tip O'Neill, bringing to life one of the most colorful political figures of the 20th century." - The Wall Street Journal
"An absorbing and evocative look at the life of the hulking Irish pol from Boston whose rise paralleled the ascendance of New Deal liberalism and who became its most stalwart defender in the Reagan years." - Newsweek.com
"Both scholarly and breezy, admiring and objective." - Providence Sunday Journal
"John Aloysius Farrell, the longtime White House correspondent for The Boston Globe, paints a rich, panoramic canvas of smoke-filled rooms, committee chambers and backslapper hangouts, with sometimes rueful but always entertaining insight." - New York Daily News
"Farrell, The Boston Globe's outstanding Washington correspondent, brings sympathy and affection and an acute political mind to this engrossing biography." - Newsday
"In a meticulously comprehensive biography, John A. Farrell provides a grand picture of the most affable of public men." - Boston Herald
"A riveting biography....Farrell grew up on Long Island, but he has grasped every nuance of Boston's fierce Irish-Yankee wars....In the Washington chapters, Farrell takes you backstage for the intrigues and personalities in O'Neill's march to the speaker's podium. He records the tensions with the Kennedys, the reluctant but crucial transformation from Vietnam hawk to dove, the bravura performance in the role O'Neill was born to play -- foil to Ronald Reagan." - Mary McGrory
"This book is a story-teller's book, which has a wonderful Irish-American flavor about it and accurately reflects O'Neill, the last great Irish-American politician of the old style to hold a high position." - UPI
"The writing is never slow, thanks to Farrell's gift for making events come alive with the smallest of details....Read this book for its magnificent sweep of American history." - Rocky Mountain News
"Farrell, a prizewinning veteran reporter...has written a book as lovely as its subject, and also as big and accomplished." - The American Prospect
"It is a joy to read a book that is both entertainingly written and thoroughly researched, especially if it offers rich new insights into people and events we believe we already understand. Such a book is Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century." - Speaker Jim Wright