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Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism


Jane Mayer is the winner of The New York Public Library’s 2017 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism for her revelatory work, Dark Money. This prestigious award is given annually to journalists whose books have brought clarity and public attention to important issues, events, or policies. The award was announced at the 30th annual Bernstein Award ceremony [video].

2017 Winner: Jane Mayer's Dark Money

book cover

In Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Doubleday), Jane Mayer illuminates the history of an elite cadre of plutocrats who have bankrolled a systematic plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. Drawing from hundreds of exclusive interviews, as well as extensive scrutiny of public records, private papers, and court proceedings, Mayer provides portraits of the secretive figures behind the new American oligarchy and a look at the carefully concealed agendas steering the nation.

Mayer is the first person ever to win the Helen Bernstein Book Award twice. She first won in 2009 for her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.

Mayer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three bestselling and critically acclaimed narrative nonfiction books. For her reporting at The New Yorker, Mayer has been awarded the John Chancellor Award, the George Polk Award, the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, and the I. F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence.  

Library Stories from Past Winners

Past winners of the Bernstein Award discuss journalism and democracy.


2017 Finalists on The New York Public Library Podcast

Leading up to the 2017 Bernstein Award ceremony, The New York Public Library Podcast featured interviews with award finalists.

Jane Mayer &  Dark Money

Janine di Giovanni &  The Morning They Came For Us

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson &  Cast Away

Sonia Shah & Pandemic

Gary Younge &  Another Day in the Death of America

More About the Award

Each year, finalists for the Bernstein Award are selected by an eight-member Library Review Committee. Winners are chosen by a separate Bernstein Selection Committee. The award was established through a gift from Joseph Frank Bernstein, in honor of journalist Helen Bernstein Fealy. The family has also endowed the position of the Helen Bernstein Librarian for Periodicals & Journals, who curates The New York Public Library’s internationally-renowned Periodicals collection—one of the largest collections of past and present newspapers, magazines, and more in the world. The position is currently held by librarian Shannon Keller.