Kitty Genovese


Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America
Author: Kevin Cook
256 Pages in Hardback

Published: March 3, 2014
Dates Read: July 20-25 2015

My Rating:  5 Stars


Book Summary from Amazon:

At last, the true story of a crime that shocked the world.

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.

16 pages of photographs

My review in 2015:

Wow! This is not the story of this case that I remember hearing in college! The little bit of this case we learned in college was wrong! There is so much more to this sad case. And everything that happened after Kitty Genovese was murdered makes it even sadder.

The author spent two years researching and learning things we didn’t know. The ending of the book with showing a step by step of Kitty’s last moments leave you with thinking about everything that happened- including a shocker that I didn’t know. I came very close to tearing up at the end.

There was some extraneous material throughout the book. It did not need to be there and I scanned over those paragraphs. There was so much that I almost rated the book 4 stars.


I highly enjoyed the book. It was one of my top reads in 2015.