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Carroll, Andrew 1970-

Carroll, Andrew 1970-

PERSONAL:

Born 1970. Education: Columbia University, graduated (magna cum laude), 1993.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Washington, DC. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Historian. American Poetry and Literacy Project (nonprofit organization), cofounder and executive director, 1993—; Legacy Project (nonprofit organization), founding director, 1998—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Medal of Honor, Daughters of the American Revolution; Order of Saint Maurice, National Infantryman's Association; Free Spirit Award, Freedom Forum.

WRITINGS:

Volunteer USA, Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1991.

Golden Opportunities: A Volunteer Guide for Americans over 50, Peterson's (Princeton, NJ), 1994.

EDITOR

Letters of a Nation: A Collection of Extraordinary American Letters, Kodansha International (New York, NY), 1997.

101 Great American Poems, Dover, 1998.

Songs for the Open Road, Dover, 1999.

(With Robert Torricelli) In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century, foreword by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Kodansha International (New York, NY), 1999.

War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, foreword by Douglas Brinkley, Scribner (New York, NY), 2001, condensed edition, Washington Square Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters—and One Man's Search to Find Them, Scribner (New York, NY), 2005.

Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, preface by Dana Gioia, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.

Grace under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2007.

ADAPTATIONS:

War Letters was adapted as a recording, Simon & Schuster Audio, 2001, as a television program broadcast on PBS, 2001, and as a stage production, 2002; Operation Homecoming was adapted to audio, Blackstone Audio, 2006, and for television, PBS, 2007. War Letters and Behind the Lines inspired the 2004 "Saluting Those Who Serve" program organized by the U.S. Presidential Inaugural Committee.

SIDELIGHTS:

Andrew Carroll is known for his work in founding two nonprofit organizations: the American Poetry and Literacy Project and the Legacy Project. The former is a group that Carroll founded with the late Nobel Laureate poet Joseph Brodsky to provide free copies of poetry books to schools, hospitals, libraries, hotels, supermarkets, and other locations. He has a contract with Amtrak, too, to provide poetry books on trains for passengers to read. Since it was created in 1993, the American Poetry and Literacy Project has provided over one million poetry books free of charge in its effort to promote the benefits of poetry to American lives. Carroll was inspired to create the project while he was still in college and read a speech by Brodsky suggesting the distribution of free poetry. The two corresponded and met in a Greenwich Village to establish the American Poetry and Literacy Project. "Before I started this project with Brodsky …," Carroll related to Lisa Newman in the Smithsonian, "I didn't even like poetry. I was simply floored by Brodsky's idea of putting poetry in hotel rooms. It was so democratic in spirit, so egalitarian, this notion that literature is for everyone."

The Legacy Project, founded several years later, seeks to preserve wartime correspondence for posterity. Carroll first came up with the idea for the Legacy Project after his family house burned down and, among other personal items, all his letters were destroyed. Among them were a number of letters from a friend who had experienced the Tiananmen Square uprising in China. It occurred to him then that many other letters are of historical importance and should be preserved. Carroll's first effort was Letters of a Nation: A Collection of Extraordinary American Letters, which includes letters he located at the Library of Congress and elsewhere. The book contains letters in their entirety from astronauts, poets, presidents, athletes, activists, and so on. Letters from famous figures such as Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King, Jr., are included, as well as from ordinary people whose letters Carroll found particularly moving. The collection became a national bestseller. "This volume could turn out to be a favorite book of quotations," predicted Linda A. Vretos in a School Library Journal review.

Of the many types of letters covered in Letters of a Nation, Carroll was particularly moved by the ones written by soldiers and their families. "These were mostly men facing death, and from that experience, they produced incredibly poignant, eloquent accounts," he told Newman. After getting newspaper advice columnist Abigail Van Buren to mention his Legacy Project in her "Dear Abby" column, the Legacy Project really took off. Carroll received thousands of letters dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War from people wanting to share their correspondence with him. Since then, he has edited several collections of war correspondence and is now considered an authority in the field. War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, the first such collection, reproduces a selection of about one hundred and fifty letters, including those ranging from the American Civil War to the recent conflicts in Bosnia and Somalia. Booklist critic Jay Freeman called it a "wonderful collection" that will prove valuable to both scholars and lay readers who will find it "an informative and deeply moving reading experience."

War Letters was followed by Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters—and One Man's Search to Find Them and Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families. Behind the Lines reproduces some two hundred wartime letters stretching back to the Revolutionary War and includes correspondence found by Carroll as he traveled to over thirty countries during his research. While the previous collection was all about American soldiers and their families, this second book has letters by foreign writers as well. "The letters are, almost without exception, arresting in their earnestness, sincerity and passion, and diverse in their sentiments," reported a Publishers Weekly critic. "This is a wonderful book that should remind us of the grinding pain endured by both those who serve and those who wait for them," concluded Freeman in another Booklist assessment. Operation Homecoming includes not only letters by soldiers, but also pieces by noted writers such as Marilyn Nelson and Tobias Wolff. "The result is an incredibly wide range of opinions and emotions about U.S. policy in the Middle East," according to Vanessa Bush in Booklist.

Carroll commented to Newman that life has taken an unexpected turn for him: "It's ironic the way things have worked out for me…. I never used to like poetry. I certainly didn't like history. And I didn't like travel. I thought of it as airports, delays, luggage getting lost. I wasn't really looking forward to going across country in a truck, for instance, but once I was out there, I never wanted it to end."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

America's Intelligence Wire, September 19, 2003, "Letters Recall Wartime Heroism."

Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, July 6, 2005, "Letters from the Past."

Biblio, August 1, 1998, "Letters of a Nation: A Collection of Extraordinary American Letters," p. 73.

Booklist, October 15, 1997, review of Letters of a Nation, p. 379; May 1, 2001, Jay Freeman, review of War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, p. 1647; March 15, 2005, Jay Freeman, review of Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War Letters—and One Man's Search to Find Them, p. 1244; September 1, 2006, Vanessa Bush, review of Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families, p. 41.

Commentary, October 1, 2006, "One & the Many," p. 4.

Entertainment Weekly, December 10, 1999, "Between the Lines: The Inside Scoop on the Book World," p. 102.

Europe Intelligence Wire, July 4, 2005, "Books: Letters from the Front Make Powerful Reading."

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of Behind the Lines, p. 326.

Kliatt, September 1, 2002, Raymond L. Puffer, review of War Letters, p. 38.

Library Journal, October 15, 1997, review of Letters of a Nation, p. 74; October 15, 1999, Jim Doyle, review of In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century, p. 83; April 15, 2001, Daniel K. Blewett, review of War Letters, p. 116; March 1, 2007, "Grace under Fire: Letters of Faith in Times of War," p. 62.

M2 Best Books, May 13, 2002, "‘War Letters’ to Be Released as Free Armed Services Edition."

National Geographic, November 1, 2005, "War Letters: The Lives behind the Lines," p. 78.

New York Times, November 12, 2004, "Writing of War," p. 6.

PR Newswire, June 25, 2001, "On the Fourth of July, Interview Andy Carroll, Editor of the New York Times National Bestseller."

Publishers Weekly, April 30, 2001, review of War Letters, p. 69; March 28, 2005, review of Behind the Lines, p. 66.

School Library Journal, April 1, 2000, Linda A. Vretos, review of In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century, p. 162.

Smithsonian, November 1, 2000, Lisa Newman, "Andrew Carroll: Man of Letters," p. 152.

U.S. News & World Report, May 23, 2005, "Words from War," p. 25.

ONLINE

International Speakers Bureau Web site,http://www.internationalspeakers.com/ (May 11, 2007), brief biography of Andrew Carroll.

Letters of a Nation Web site,http://lettersofanation.com (May 11, 2007).

National Endowment for the Arts Web site,http://www.nea.gov/ (May 11, 2007), interview with Andrew Carroll and brief biography.

War Letters Web site,http://www.warletters.com/ (May 11, 2007).

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