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The Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism Celebrates 30th Anniversary


The New York Public Library celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2017. This prestigious award is given annually to journalists whose books have brought clarity and public attention to important issues, events, or policies.

2017 Winner

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Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the  Radical Right

Jane Mayer (Doubleday)
Mayer illuminates the history of an elite cadre of plutocrats who have bankrolled a systematic plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

2017 Finalists

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The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria

Janine di Giovanni (Liveright | W.W. Norton & Company)
An extraordinary picture of the devastating human consequences of armed conflict that charts an apocalyptic, but at times tender, story of life in a jihadist war zone.

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Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson (The New Press)
Cast Away describes the agonizing stories and impossible decisions of migrants heading toward what they believe is a better life.

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Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond

Sonia Shah (Sarah Crichton Books | Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
A deep-dive into the convoluted science, strange politics, and checkered history of cholera—Shah's book tracks each stage of the disease's dramatic journey from harmless microbe to world-changing pandemic.

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Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives

Gary Younge (Nation Books)
Younge's book tells the stories of 10 gun-related deaths in America in a single day in 2013. The narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the human stories not captured by statistics and brief mentions in local newspapers.

The Bernstein Awards on The New York Public Library Podcast

Leading up to the 2017 Bernstein Awards, The New York Public Library Podcast is featuring interviews with the finalists and panels on the critical role journalism plays in a democratic society.

Jane Mayer &  Dark Money

Janine di Giovanni &  The Morning They Came For Us

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson &  Cast Away

Gary Younge &  Another Day in the Death of America

Sonia Shah & Pandemic

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 Karen Gisonny.