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Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences

Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences

4.1 8
by Catherine Pelonero

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A New York Times bestseller!

Written in a flowing narrative style, Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences presents the story of the horrific and infamous murder of Kitty Genovese, a young woman stalked and stabbed on the street where she lived in Queens, New York, in 1964. The case sparked national


A New York Times bestseller!

Written in a flowing narrative style, Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences presents the story of the horrific and infamous murder of Kitty Genovese, a young woman stalked and stabbed on the street where she lived in Queens, New York, in 1964. The case sparked national outrage when the New York Times revealed that dozens of witnesses had seen or heard the attacks on Kitty Genovese and her struggle to reach safety but had failed to come to her aid—or even call police until after the killer had fled.

This book, first published in 2014 and now with a new afterword, cuts through misinformation and conjecture to present a definitive portrait of the crime, the aftermath, and the people involved. Based on six years of research, Catherine Pelonero’s book presents the facts from police reports, archival material, court documents, and firsthand interviews. Pelonero offers a personal look at Kitty Genovese, an ambitious young woman viciously struck down in the prime of her life; Winston Moseley, the killer who led a double life as a responsible family-man by day and a deadly predator by night; the consequences for a community condemned; and others touched by the tragedy.

Beyond just a true-crime story, the book embodies much larger themes: the phenomenon of bystander inaction, the evolution of a serial killer, and the fears and injustices spawned by the stark prejudices of an era, many of which linger to this day.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pelonero's background as a playwright bleeds into her attempt at true crime account of the 1964 Genovese murder, losing credibility from the outset with scenes that have clearly been dramatized. Given that Genovese died shortly after the assault without revealing what had happened, how can Pelonero purport to represent her thoughts and feelings right before the attack, and not lose readers hoping for the "true account" the subtitle promises? This lapse is even less justifiable considering the tragedy already includes many dramatic components—a quiet neighborhood becoming the unlikely locale for a savage crime and the widely held notion that the victim could have been saved with minimal effort by her neighbors. The prose is bloated with hyperbole: for example when Pelonero writes, "To call his parents' marriage stormy would be an understatement, unless said storm were a series of massive tornados touching down frequently and without warning, twisting violently along a frenzied though familiar course that uprooted all in their path, leaving a wake of bruised feelings, the occasional black eye, and old wounds so constantly reopened that they never had the opportunity to begin healing much less fade." Readers looking for a definitive account of this tragic slaughter may want to look elsewhere. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“[Pelonero takes] pains to present a fully-realized portrait of Kitty so that readers won’t forget that she was a person, not a player in an anecdote. . . . One comes away with a deeper appreciation of the personal turmoil suffered by Kitty’s friends and family as well as the depth of Moseley’s depravity.”— Boston Globe

"The definitive account of a dark moment in US History, at once richly detailed, deeply humane, and profoundly compelling...Pelonero's book will leave you moved and enlightened."- Adam Alter, author of Drunk Tank Pink

“Catherine Pelonero has consulted all the original files and tracked down every surviving participant for her definitive analysis of the case. Reading her pages evokes anger and anguish in equal measure.”— The Advocate

"Pelonero… [gets] readers thinking about gender as a crucial key to the puzzle." — The Nation

"If you only read one true crime book this year, I highly recommend it’s this one."
— Fiona Guy, Crime Bookshelf

Product Details

Skyhorse Publishing
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3 MB

Meet the Author

Catherine Pelonero is an author and playwright whose work has been produced in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. She has won the Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival as well as the Yale University Screenwriting Competition for her work. Pelonero is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Actors Studio Playwrights & Directors Unit, and currently serves as a vice-chair of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights (ALAP).

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Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was way better than I anticipated. It was a very emotional read and one I could not put down. I would recommend this book to everyone as it is outstanding.
CisforCat More than 1 year ago
Intimate but Objective Catherine Pelonero's book engaged me from its first few sentences. Having been vaguely familiar with the tragic case of Catherine "Kitty" Genovese, but not having read about it or studied it, I was interested in what actually occurred 50 years ago. This book tells you what happened; it takes you through the crime up to the conviction of Kitty's murderer, Winston Moseley. The book discusses the phenomenon which came to be termed 'bystander indifference.' There is much more to this book beyond what I have touched upon here. Ms Pelonero's writing is intimate, yet objective, an uneasy task. Uneasy because the assault and all the horror inflicted upon Kitty lasted 35 minutes. In reading I began to feel itchy for the horror, the brutality towards Ms Genovese to end. But, the book is not sensationalistic. The author gives the reader a sort of "You are There" sense. But, poignantly, respectfully, to all the people in the case, even to the reader and out into the world. The book helped me to identify with so many of its characters, even if not empathize or even like. The author's writing is such it clearly illustrates her affinity for, even a devotion to, Kitty Genovese. Read this book for its topic, its aftermath, as a portrayal of a real crime. Read this book to wonder, what might I do in a similar situation as a witness to such a crime. Read this book to know there are people in the world such as Catherine Pelonero who in researching and writing her book over a period of seven years honored Kitty Genovese. Thank you for your book Ms Pelonero, for standing as a witness 50 years later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had thought the murder of Kitty Genovese had happened in the Fifties, but it actually happened in 1964. She was attacked twice by the same knife-wielding man, who finally killed her the second time. Throughout all this, a huge number of residents in the Kews Garden area of Queens did nothing--not even call the police. One man shouted out his window for the attacker to stop, but no one came down from their apartments to the scene that they had all watched. The second attack and actual killing could have been prevented by conscientious intervention at even a minimal level, but the case came to represent 20th century anomie and refusal to get involved in a critical situation. It is unlikely, based on subsequent studies in identical conditions, that Ms. Genovese would be aided today. No one wants to look uncool by breaking their public face to see what is really happening out there. It's too important not to surrender the public facade. The only good that came out of this whole incident was the creation of the 911 national emergency number. If it had existed then, cops might have been able to show up on time. This is an excellent and frightening book, well-researched and well-written.
NMJester 7 months ago
It is unfortunate that this book is listed under "True Crime" as it is actually pure fiction. The attack on Kitty Genovese was not as described. It appears the author relied on debunked sources and her own imagination to craft this work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was overly detailed. On my Nook it was about 370 pages, I felt it should have been about 200. Way more details and felt parts were gone over more than once. It was good, but a little too much. I ended up skimming several parts just to get to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was assaulted as 10 people stood and watched.....and have referred to this case many times over the year. In fact studies have been based on this one crime - on why people didn't help. I can't wait to read more....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago