Kitty Genovese

Kitty Genovese

The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America

Book - 2014
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New York City, 1964. A young woman is stabbed to death on her front stoop--a murder the New York Times called "a frozen moment of dramatic, disturbing social change." The victim, Catherine "Kitty" Genovese, became an urban martyr, butchered by a sociopathic killer in plain sight of thirty-eight neighbors who "didn't want to get involved." Her sensational case provoked an anxious outcry and launched a sociological theory known as the "Bystander Effect."

That's the narrative told by the Times, movies, TV programs, and countless psychology textbooks. But as award-winning author Kevin Cook reveals, the Genovese story is just that, a story. The truth is far more compelling--and so is the victim.

Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of her murder, Cook presents the real Kitty Genovese. She was a vibrant young woman--unbeknownst to most, a lesbian--a bartender working (and dancing) her way through the colorful, fast-changing New York of the '60s, a cultural kaleidoscope marred by the Kennedy assassination, the Cold War, and race riots. Downtown, Greenwich Village teemed with beatniks, folkies, and so-called misfits like Kitty and her lover. Kitty Genovese evokes the Village's gay and lesbian underground with deep feeling and colorful detail.

Cook also reconstructs the crime itself, tracing the movements of Genovese's killer, Winston Moseley, whose disturbing trial testimony made him a terrifying figure to police and citizens alike, especially after his escape from Attica State Prison.

Drawing on a trove of long-lost documents, plus new interviews with her lover and other key figures, Cook explores the enduring legacy of the case. His heartbreaking account of what really happened on the night Genovese died is the most accurate and chilling to date.

Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393239287
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 COO NVD
Characteristics: 242 pages, 8 unnumbered leaves of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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athompson10 Jul 16, 2015

What's most interesting in this account is how A.M. Rosenthal and the revered NY Times exaggerated and distorted the Genovese murder to make a better story for its readers. This isn't a highly scholary, footnoted book but is a good readable account of the truth behind the myth of a famous NYC murder.

Oct 15, 2014

book referred to by girlwhowalksalot:

Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences Hardcover – March 4, 2014

by Catherine Pelonero

OPL does not own this book - yet.

ChristchurchLib May 12, 2014

"In 1964, Winston Moseley brutally killed a young woman named Kitty Genovese in New York City. Reports on the crime soon made the inaction of bystanders as sensational as the crime itself, and the idea of the "bystander effect" took hold. Reviewing newspaper articles, police reports, and other firsthand sources, author Kevin Cook offers a more complex view of the killer, the victim, and the witnesses. His analysis raises intriguing questions about how news media drive perceptions." History and Current Events May 2014 newsletter


Very very light on detail. Only spent 2 sentences on her marriage, and only a paragraph on the killer's 1st marriage and hardly a few paragraphs on his crime sprees, including rape, robbery/theft before being caught for murder. Pelonaro's book is far superior.

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