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Five Finalists Chosen For The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award For Excellence in Journalism


Presitigious Award Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary With Ceremony and Journalism Film Series


February 27, 2012— Five acclaimed and important titles spanning topics such as the pension crisis, pollution, the war in Iraq and Somalian pirates have been named finalists in The New York Public Library’s annual Helen Bernstein Book Award For Excellence in Journalism, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The books were chosen as finalists by an eight-member Library Review Committee, which received over 100 nominations from publishers for books published in 2011. Between October and February, the committee read each book nominated, and the finalists are:

  • The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahadur (Pantheon Books)
  • Killing the Cranes by Edward Girardet (Chelsea Green Publishing)
  • Moby Duck by Donovan Hohn (Viking)
  • Counterstrike  by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker (Times Books)
  • Retirement Heist by Ellen E. Schultz (Portfolio/Penguin USA)

The journalists represented on the list have been published in respected outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, Christian Science Monitor, Lapham’s Quarterly, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, and others.

The winner is then chosen by a Selection Committee, chaired by James F. Hoge, and announced at a reception and award ceremony on June 5.

The annual award was established in 1987
through a gift from Joseph Frank Bernstein in honor of journalist Helen Bernstein, and includes a $15,000 cash prize. It has been given to journalists whose books have brought clarity and public attention to important issues, events, or policies.  Previous winners of the award include Jane Mayer, Charlie Savage, Philip Gourevitch, Lawrence Wright, David Remnick and David Finkel. Shane Harris won last year for his book "The Watchers." 

In addition to the June 5 ceremony, the Library is hosting a free film series entitled, “All The News It’s Fit To Screen” at its Library for the Performing Arts to mark the 25th anniversary of the prestigious Bernstein Award. The series will feature screenings of films about journalism – such as “Shattered Glass” and “Sweet Smell of Success” – as well as panel discussions with reporters. It is curated by Karen Gisonny, Helen B. Bernstein Librarian for Periodicals and Journals, and David Callahan, Principle Librarian, Reserve Film and Video Collection, and will run from May 31 until June 28. Check for a full schedule of screenings (which will all start at 6:30 p.m.).