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Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case [Paperback]

By A. M. Rosenthal, Samuel G. Freedman (Foreward By) & Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (Introduction by)
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Item description for Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case by A. M. Rosenthal, Samuel G. Freedman & Arthur Ochs Sulzberger...

"[Rosenthal] told a stunning, tragic story and called each one of us to account for averting our eyes—and hearts—and voices."
-Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes

It remains one of the most notorious deaths in New York City history not because of who was murdered but because of the circumstances: 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered, in an attack that took nearly thirty minutes and had thirty-eight witnesses...not one of whom did a thing to stop the murderer or even call for help.

A.M. Rosenthal, who would later become one of the most famous and controversial editors The New York Times has ever had, was the newspaper's city editor then; the murder happened on his beat. He first published this book in 1964, the year of the murder. It is part memoir, part investigative journalism, and part public service.
"This is a most important book by perhaps the most important newspaper editor of the last half-century."
—Gay Talese, author of The Kingdom and the Power

"A memorable book...that needs to be available to...anyone who struggles an honorable life within one or another community or neighborhood."
—Robert Coles, author of The Moral Life of Children
A.M. Rosenthal was editor of The New York Times from 1969 through 1986, during which time he gained fame for the paper's coverage of the war in Vietnam, Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal, and in particular for his decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. Prior to that he was a foreign correspondent for the Times, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1960. He died in 2006.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   112
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 5" Height: 7.5"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2008
Publisher   Melville House
ISBN  1933633298  
ISBN13  9781933633299  

Availability  0 units.

More About A. M. Rosenthal, Samuel G. Freedman & Arthur Ochs Sulzberger

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Samuel G. Freedman is a columnist for "The New York Times" and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of six acclaimed books, four of which have been "New York Times" Notable Books of the Year. Freedman also has written frequently for "USA TODAY", "New York" magazine, "Rolling Stone", " The Jerusalem Post, Tablet, The Forward", and He lives in Manhattan with his fiance and his children.

Samuel G. Freedman currently resides in New York City, in the state of New York.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > History > United States
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local - By State > New York
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > True Stories > Murder & Mayhem
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > True Stories > True Crime

Reviews - What do customers think about Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case?

A Penetrating Look At the Ugly Face of Apathy, Alienation, and Indifference  Mar 7, 2007
On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was a single woman of 28 years who worked as a bartender and lived by herself in the Kew Gardens section of the Queens borough of New York City. She was killed, in three separate attacks in three separate places, over a period of one half hour by a man she had never met, one Winston Moseley, who was married, employed, and who upon being captured had no official criminal record but confessed to two other murders. Between her death and his capture, he committed three other robberies.

The author, a well known columnist, editor, and foreign correspondent for the New York Times, does not ask or answer typical journalistic questions. We learn nothing about Kitty Genovese's educational record, employment history, love life, family life, religious or community activities, etc. He notes her lack of prominence, and that her death initially received a mere four paragraphs in the New York Times.

What we learn instead is that her cries for help in the middle of the night led thirty-eight people to watch her being fatally stabbed, and the reaction of 37 of them was to treat her ongoing murder as a bad television show that could safely be turned off. None of the 37 called the police. The 38th witness first went to someone else's apartment so his calls could not be traced to him, called a friend for advice, and then, after she was dead, called the police, who came within two minutes.

Some of the people in the neighborhood casually knew Ms. Genovese, but not well enough to spring into action. The author sees them mainly as apathetic, but also as alienated from the community of which they were a part and somewhat indifferent to the fate of their fellow citizens.

The focus of the New York Times on the 38 witnesses who did not act in a timely fashion made this a national news story. Other similar stories of apathy, alienation, and indifference around the world came to light.

Some New Yorkers blamed the police for slow response time, probing personal questions of complainants, and disrespectful treatment of callers, saying that the poor record of the New York Police Department was the reason that people did not call. The New York Times diligently investigated the various methods used by other urban police departments to receive citizen calls, and successfully joined the Police Department's ultimately successful attempt to have a citywide emergency number.

But none of the 38 used that excuse. Those willing to talk to the press expressed apathy, fear of consequences, fear of involvement, reluctant spouses,and other similar reasons that look petty and inconsequential when one considers that a life was lost. Before they began to consider the press interest in their decisions to be harassing and advisable to avoid, they told the New York Times that they had learned from their experience and would not do it again.

To his credit, the author does not get on a high horse. He notes that he had turned away beggars repeatedly, beggars in obviously poor health and desperate financial circumstances. He makes it clear that the key question of the Genovese case--what degree of sacrifice do we owe others?--is a question that applies him and to all Americans as well as the 38 witnesses.

Sparing us extraneous details of Kitty Genovese's life, this book is an ethical and moral classic. It belongs in ethics courses at all levels.

It is also a classic book on the decay of urban communities. It does not ask or answer questions about the role the Genovese case played in middle class flight out of New York and other cities, but it clearly played a supporting role in the fear-based migration. This book belongs in urban studies courses and courses in criminology where the social effects of crime are considered.

Needs more information on Kitty Genovese  Aug 23, 2001
This book detailed the crime that killed Kitty Genovese, but I have to agree with the reviewer below. After all these years, WHY didn't the author do some research on Kitty Genovese herself? Why didn't he interview family members or friends? Her name will forever be etched in our minds because of the tragic circumstances surrounding her death, but the public would like to get to know more about this victim. Kitty Genovese was much more than a tragic crime statistic, she was a human being whose life was brutally ended much too soon.

I do feel that this book should be read in schools everywhere, though. It was frightening to think of how this woman was savagely murdered while so many people stood by and did nothing. Kitty could have easily been saved if just one person had picked up the phone and called the police when they first heard her screams. This story should be a wake-up call for all of us, and an educational tool for generations to come.

No Justice for Miss Genovese  Aug 29, 2000
This book is slight in content as well as size. Essentially an essay on the Kitty Genovese case, the author tells us (twice) that he knew nothing of the woman other than her name, her age and the manner of her death. Those facts, along with a tiny bit of information about the killer and some anecdotes concerning the author's job at the New York Times and his contact with this story, are about all you get when you read this book. It's a pity that 35+ years after her death, the author knows no more about her or the case than he knew in 1964. His commentary is the easy commentary of a journalist who writes for quick deadlines, the cumulative effect of which is that, by book's end, we find that Miss Genovese' life and far-too-early violent death - witnessed by thirty-eight bystanders who failed to act - has been marginalized once more by an reporter who, himself, fails to investigate.
Extraordinary tale, written by a great journalist  Aug 27, 1999
Abe Rosenthal is the greatest editor opf his generation, a man who transformed The New York Times and modern-day journalism. Earlier, he was a wonderful foreign correspondent, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his dispatches from Poland. This book, written when he was metropolitan editor of The Times, is about one of the most gruesome urban tragedies to occur in New York. This book needs no review. It simply needs to be read, and its lessons remembered by all of us.

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