Carroll was born in Chicago in 1943, and raised in Washington where his father, an Air Force general, served as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Carroll attended Georgetown University before entering the seminary to train for the Catholic priesthood. He received BA and MA degrees from St. Paul’s College, the Paulist Fathers’ seminary in Washington, and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1969. Carroll served as Catholic Chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer.
In 1974 Carroll was Playwright-in-Residence at the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge, MA. In 1976 he published his first novel, Madonna Red, which was translated into seven languages. Subsequent novels include the New York Times bestsellers Mortal Friends (1978), Family Trade (1982), and Prince of Peace (1984). His novels The City Below (1994) and Secret Father (2003) were named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times. His novel Warburg in Rome was published in 2014. Carroll’s essays and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Daedalus, The Daily Beast and other publications. His op-ed page column ran regularly in the Boston Globe from 1992 to 2015.
Carroll’s memoir, An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us, received the 1996 National Book Award in nonfiction and other awards. His book Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History, published in 2001, was a New York Times bestseller and was honored as one of the Best Books of 2001 by the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and others. It was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, and won the Melcher Book Award, the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, and National Jewish Book Award in History. A feature-length documentary film based on Constantine’s Sword, directed by Oscar-nominated Oren Jacoby, was named a “Critic’s Pick” by The New York Times and Best Documentary of 2008 by Film Comment.
In 2002, Carroll published Toward A New Catholic Church: The Promise of Reform, and, in 2004, Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War. In 2006, he published House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power, which the Chicago Tribune called “the first great non-fiction book of the new millennium.” Among its honors is the first PEN-John Kenneth Galbraith award. In 2009, he published Practicing Catholic, advancing Church reform. In 2012, Doubleday published Vatican II: The Essential Documents, translated by Norman Tanner, with introductions by Carroll and Pope Benedict XVI. The December 15, 2013 issue of The New Yorker featured Carroll’s much discussed cover article about Pope Francis, “Who Am I to Judge?” His periodic articles appear at NEWYORKER.COM
Carroll has been a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at the Harvard Divinity School; The Richman Visiting Professor at Brandeis University; holder of the McDonald Chair at Emory University; a trustee of the Boston Public Library; a member of the Dean’s Council at the Harvard Divinity School; Distinguished-Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University; and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at The Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Associate of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. Carroll holds honorary degrees from, among others, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Suffolk University, Brandeis University, Lehigh University, and Claremont Graduate University.
James Carroll lives in Boston with his wife, the writer Alexandra Marshall. They have two grown children.
Over the course of 23 years (1992-2015), James Carroll published over 1000 columns in the Boston Globe.
James Carroll’s Boston Globe columns won the 2012 Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Commentary. The Judges’ comment: "James Carroll's elegant style and historical depth of knowledge combine with his thoughtful, moral point of view to consistently provide his readers with a unique voice.”Download full list of James Carroll's Boston Globe columns
Born Chicago, 1943
Married to the novelist, Alexandra Marshall. Two grown children.
Residence: Boston, Massachusetts
BA (Philosophy) & MA (Theology): St. Paul’s College
(The Paulist Fathers’ Seminary, Washington, D.C.
Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, New York University (2015)
Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, Suffolk University (2008 - 2015)
Boston Globe Oped Columnist (1992 - 2015)
Associate, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University (2008 - present)
Scholar-in-Residence, American Academy of Arts & Sciences Founding Chair, Visiting Scholars Program (2002 - 2006)
Dean’s Council, Harvard Divinity School (2002 - 2012)
Trustee, Boston Public Library (2001- 2012)
International Advisory Board, The Center for Ethics, Justice & Public Life, Brandeis University (2001 - 2011)
Alonzo McDonald Visiting Professor, Emory University (Fall, 2011)
Richman Visiting Professor, Brandeis University (Spring, 2009)
Fellow, Harvard Divinity School (1997 - 2000)
Shorenstein Fellow, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard U. (Spring, 1997)
Writer-in-Residence, Emerson College (1987 - 1996)
Chair, PEN- New England (1991 - 1996)
Playwright-in-Residence, The Berkshire Theater Festival (1974)
National Catholic Reporter, Columnist (1971 - 1975)
Catholic Chaplain, Boston University (1969 - 1974)
Heinrich Boll Residency, Achill, Ireland, Spring 2014
Scripps Howard National Journalism Award, Best Commentary, 2012
Scripps Howard National Journalism Award, Finalist, 2010
The Press for Peace and Justice Award, American Friends of Peace Now, 2008
The PEN-John Kenneth Galbraith Award, 2006
Elected Fellow, The American Academy of Arts & Sciences 1998
The National Book Award, 1996
Phi Beta Kappa - Boston University, 1993
The Catholic Press Association Best Column Award, 1976
The Thomas Merton Award, 1972
Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 2015
Lehigh University, 2013
Claremont Graduate University, 2009
Brandeis University, 2008
Hebrew College, 2004
University of Massachusetts - Lowell, 2003
Marlboro College, 1998
Teikyo Marycrest University, 1995
Suffolk University, 1988
The Cloister, (Doubleday / Nan A. Talese) 2017
Warburg in Rome, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 2014
Secret Father (Houghton Mifflin), 2005, NYT Notable Book of 2005
The City Below (Houghton Mifflin), 1994, NYT Notable Book of 1994
Memorial Bridge (Houghton Mifflin), 1992
Firebird (Dutton), 1989
Supply of Heroes (Dutton), 1987
Prince of Peace (Little Brown), 1984 , NYT Bestseller
Family Trade (Little Brown), 1982, NYT Bestseller
Fault Lines (Little Brown), 1980
Mortal Friends (Little Brown), 1978, NYT Bestseller
Madonna Red (Little Brown), 1976
Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age (Viking), 2014
Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2011
Practicing Catholic (Houghton Mifflin), 2009
House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power (Houghton Mifflin), 2006, Winner, the 2006 PEN-Galbraith Award
Crusade: Chronicle of an Unjust War (Metropolitan), 2005
Toward a New Catholic Church (Houghton Mifflin), 2004
Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews (Houghton Mifflin), 2001, A NYT Bestseller. Winner, The Melcher Book Award, The James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, The National Jewish Book Award. “James Carroll’s Constantine’s Sword,” directed by Oren Jacoby, was named best documentary of 2008 by Film Comment, and a “Critic’s Pick” by the NYT
An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us (Houghton Mifflin), 1996, Winner, The National Book Award
“The Future of Jesus Christ,” Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Fall, 2014
(The Paul Tillich Lecture, delivered at Harvard, April 2014)
“Who Am I To Judge?” The New Yorker, Dec. 23, 2013
“The Bush Crusade,” The Nation, Sept. 2, 2004
“Why Religion Still Matters,” Daedalus, Summer, 2003
“War Inside the Pentagon,” The New Yorker, Aug. 18, 1997.
“The Saint & the Holocaust,” The New Yorker, June 7, 1999
“The Holocaust and the Catholic Church,” The Atlantic, Oct. 3, 1999
“The Silence,” The New Yorker, April 7, 1997
“A Friendship that Ended the War,” The New Yorker, Oct. 21, 1996
“The Americanist: Isaac Hecker,” in Not Less Than Everything: Catholic Writers on Heroes of Conscience from Joan of Arc to Oscar Romero, ed. Catherine Wolff (HarperOne), 2013.
Vatican II: The Essential Texts, ed. Norman Tanner; Introductions by Pope Benedict XVI & James Carroll (Doubleday), 2012
“What Does ‘Universal’ Education Mean?” in International Perspectives on the Goals of Universal Basic and Secondary Education, ed. Joel E. Cohen & Martin B. Malin, Routledge, 2009
“Jerusalem: The Crucible of Holy War,” Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven, edited by Barbara Drake Boehm & Melanie Holcomb, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016.
“Krister Stendahl and the Introspective Conscience of a Friend,” Krister Among the Jews & Gentiles,” edited by Paula Fredriksen, Paulist Press, NY, 2018.
“Afterword,” Righting Relations After the Holocaust and Vatican II: Essays in Honor of John Pawlikowski, edited by Elena G. Procario-Foley, Paulist Press, NY, 2018.
“Dousing the Fires Ignited by a Misremembered Christ,” in Islamophobia, and Interreligious Hermeneutics: Ways of Seeing the Religious Other,” edited by Emma O’Donnell, Brill Publishers, Leiden, 2018.