Lila Corwin Berman

Lila Berman wins the 2021 Organization of American Historians’ prestigious Ellis W. Hawley Prize for her book The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution(link is external) (Princeton University Press, 2020). Congratulations Lila! 

You can read below the official OAH statement:  

Berman’s book, The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution (Princeton University Press) reveals how modern philanthropists have used structures and policies of the American state to maximize their private power in American capitalism and democracy. 

Abstruse regulations and intricate tax policies become, in this pathbreaking book, generators of tremendous wealth as well as inequality. The book is focused on influential Jewish philanthropic institutions with deep research and new insights into the political economy of post–World War II Jewish American history. Nevertheless, it offers broader lessons, provoking new thinking about the relationship between the state and wealthy private institutions across the landscape of U.S. history. It shows the investments state policy has made in private wealth and the ways those investments can be used to undermine democracy and efforts to serve the public good. Brave and original, The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex calls our attention to a unique form of political power in modern America that we cannot afford to ignore.