Reviews of Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned
"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.
"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
"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 scenesand 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
"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.
"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
Okay, not everyone loved it......
"C-Span between two covers, a magnum opus of alternatingly mind-numbing and fascinating congressional minutiae." - The Oregonian