Friday, May 15, 2009

The Dark Side Wins RFK Award

Jane Mayer's book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals has been honored with the 29th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. The award, founded in 1980 with the proceeds from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr's best-selling biography Robert F. Kennedy and His Times, is presented each year to a book which, in Schlesinger's words, "most faithfully and forcefully reflects Robert Kennedy's purposes -- his concern for the poor and powerless, his struggle for honest and even-handed justice, his conviction that a decent society must assure all young people a fair chance, and his faith that a free democracy can act to remedy disparities of power and opportunity."

The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world -- decisions that not only violated the Constitution, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named a Best Book of the Year by Salon, Slate, The Economist, and the Washington Post. The Austin American-Statesman called it "One of those rare books that should be read by every concerned American." It recently became available in paperback (Anchor Books, a division of Random House).

Jane Mayer became a staff writer for The New Yorker in 1995. Based in Washington, D.C., she writes about politics and the war on terror. Before joining The New Yorker, Mayer was a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, becoming the paper's first female White House correspondent in 1984. She was also a war correspondent and a foreign correspondent for the WSJ. She was nominated twice by the WSJ for a Pulitzer Prize in the feature-writing category. Mayer was a winner of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2008, the Edward Weintal Prize from Georgetown University, and the Ridenhour Book Prize. She began her career in journalism as a stringer for Time while still a student in college. Mayer, who was born in New York, graduated with honors from Yale in 1977 and continued her studies in history at Oxford. She lives in Washington with her husband and daughter.

The RFK Book Award was first presented in 1981 to William H. Chafe for his book Civilties and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom. For more information about the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and the RFK Book Awards, check out their Web site.

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