For First Time, Two Authors Selected as Joint Winners of Library's Prestigious Book Award

James Mann's About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton and Patrick Tyler's A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China: An Investigative History Share Annual Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism

Chosen from Field of Six Finalists, Both Books Cover Same Subject

Helen Bernstein Feely joins Osborn Elliott, right, Chair of the Selection Committee, in congratulating journalist/author James Mann. The second winner, Patrick Tyler, was unable to attend.

Photo: Don Pollard

New York, NY, May 4, 2000 -- In an unprecedented decision in the award's 13-year history, two authors have been selected as co-winners of the 2000 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism it was announced today.  The winners are James Mann for About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton (Alfred A. Knopf Inc.) and Patrick Tyler for A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China: An Investigative History (Public Affairs).  Both books cover America's relationship with China during the past 30 years. The award is given annually to a journalism book that has the potential to make an impact on public consciousness, events, or policy.

In honor of this year's winners, Library President Paul LeClerc hosted a luncheon this afternoon in the Trustees Room of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York, NY.  The presentation of the awards was made jointly by Dr. LeClerc and Osborn Elliott, Chairman of the Selection Committee. 

The other finalists received an Honorable Mention: Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney for Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America (Simon & Schuster); Frederick Kempe for Father/land: A Personal Search for the New Germany (The Putnam Publishing Group); Nicholas Lemann for The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); and Michael Lewis for The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story (W.W Norton & Company).  Helen Bernstein, for whom the award is named, attended the ceremony.

"This year the Selection Committee had a particularly difficult decision to make," observed Osborn Elliott.  "The field of finalists was an extremely strong one and the difficulty was compounded by having two excellent books dealing with the same important subject matter in the same time frame.  Finally, we concluded that both merited the award."

About the Award
The New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award, established in 1987, is one of the largest annual literary prizes awarded in the United States.  The winner receives a cash prize of $15,000 and each of the other finalists receives a $1,000 cash prize and an Honorable Mention. Publishers, editors, and executives of major newspapers, magazines, and publishing houses nationwide submit nominations, from which a Library committee selects the finalists. 

The winner is chosen by an independent Selection Committee of professional journalists and publishers, which this year includes Ellis Cose, Contributing Editor of Newsweek; James F. Hoge, Jr., Editor of Foreign Affairs; Harold W. McGraw III, Chairman, President, and C.E.O. of The McGraw-Hill Companies; Henry Muller, Editorial Director of Time, Inc.; Tina Rosenberg of The New York Times Editorial Board and herself a former winner of the award; Alair Townsend, Publisher of Crain's New York Business; and Ray Sokolov, Arts and Leisure Editor of The Wall Street Journal, in addition to Committee Chairman Osborn Elliott, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for New York City.

The award was established with a gift from Joseph F. Bernstein in honor of Helen Bernstein, formerly a journalist in Palm Beach, Florida.  The gift also included an endowment for the position of Helen Bernstein Chief Librarian for Periodicals and Journals in the General Research Division of the Library.  The chair is currently held by Stewart Bodner, who oversees a collection of 11,500 current periodicals in 24 languages.  This collection is used by approximately 60,000 researchers annually and is an invaluable resource for writers, artists, journalists, broadcasters, business people, and students.

Previous Winners
The previous 12 winners are:
1999 -- Philip Gourevitch, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: stories from Rwanda
1998 -- Patti Waldmeir, Anatomy of a Miracle: The End of Apartheid and the Birth of the New South Africa
1997 -- David Quammen, The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
1996 -- Tina Rosenberg, The Haunted Land; Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism
1995 -- Joseph Nocera, A Piece of the Action: How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class
1994 -- David Remnick, Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire
1993 -- Samuel Freedman, Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church
1992 -- Alex P. Kotlowitz, There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America
1991 -- Nicholas Lemann, The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America
1990 -- Thomas Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem
1989 --Judy Woodruff for her series of television reports focusing on the Iran-Contra affair
1988 --James Reston, in special recognition of his 50-year contribution to journalism.

More about this year's Finalists


Return to Press Releases

RCorbin, THoerenz: pro: 05-04-00
TH: pro: 05-05-00