James Carroll was born in Chicago in 1943, and raised in Washington where his father, an Air Force general, served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Carroll attended Georgetown University before entering the seminary to train for the Catholic priesthood. He received his BA and MA degrees at St. Paul's College, the Paulist Fathers' seminary in Washington. In 1965 he studied poetry with Allan Tate at the University of Minnesota. He was a civil rights worker and community organizer in Washington and New York. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. Read More >
Carroll served as Catholic Chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974. He studied poetry with George Starbuck, and eventually published a book of poems. Carroll left the priesthood to become a writer. In 1974 he was Playwright-in-Residence at the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge, MA. In 1976 he published his first novel, "Madonna Red." It was translated into seven languages. Since then he has published eight additional novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Mortal Friends (1978), Family Trade (1982), and Prince of Peace (1984). His novel The City Below was a New York Times Notable Book of 1994. Carroll's essays and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, and other publications. His op-ed column runs weekly in the Boston Globe. His 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 January, 2001, is a New York Times bestseller. It was named a Notable Book of the year by the New York Times, and one of the five best non-fiction books of 2001 by The Christian Science Monitor. His tenth and most recent novel, The Secret Father, was recently published.
Constantine's Sword has been the occasion of interfaith dialogues and conversations at synagogues, churches, and universities across the United States and in Canada. It was the subject of symposia at Harvard University, the proceedings of which were published in the Harvard Divinity School Bulletin; at Brandeis University, the proceedings of which were published as a collection of essays entitled "Catholics, Jews and the Prism of Conscience."
Carroll lectures widely on Jewish-Christian reconciliation, and on the question of war and peace. He is a regular participant in on-going Jewish-Christian-Muslim encounters at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and he is a member of the Advisory Board of Open House, a West Bank project working toward Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.
Carroll is a member of the Council of PEN-New England, which he served for four years as Chair. He 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 continues to hold associate appointments at the Kennedy School and at the Harvard Divinity School. He is a Trustee of the Boston Public Library. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University. Carroll is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Academy's Committee on International Security Studies, and Chair of the Academy's Visiting Scholars Center. He is at work on a history of the Pentagon. Read Less ^