Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America

Name of publisher:  W. W. Norton & Company, http://www.wwnorton.com

Name of author:  Kevin Cook, contact author through publisher

Publication date:  March 2014

Writing genre:  True crime, biography

Number of pages in book:  256 pages

Special features:  Table of contents, photographs, bibliography, index

Book Review:

      Kitty Genovese: the Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America is a  meticulously researched book about the life of Catherine Susan “Kitty” Genovese.  It is a timely book as well; the 50th anniversary of the date of the fatal attack on Kitty Genovese by Winston Moseley was on March 13, 2014.  For this book, Kevin Cook, the author, has interviewed those people who knew Kitty well: her friends, family, and neighbors.  Cook has also reviewed the information that he obtained from Kitty’s school records, and the official police and court records; and interviewed journalists and law enforcement professionals who were involved in the investigation of her attack and murder.  Cook has researched the life of Winston Moseley, the man later convicted of the attack and murder of Kitty Genovese, and we learn much about Moseley as well.  Cook does not offer gratuitous or graphic information or photographs of Kitty’s attack and death.  The result is that readers are presented with a literary portrait of the lives of Kitty Genovese and Winston Moseley, and a factual account of Kitty’s attack and murder at the hands of Winston Moseley.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, I researched the life of Kitty Genovese as part of a required assignment for my Survey of Criminal Law class.  It wasn’t specifically required for the assignment that I also researched Kitty’s life, but I did because I wanted to learn more about her as a person.  I found some books that provided some details about Kitty’s life, some books that provided some details about her murder, and some books that described the details of her murder in terms of what is now called the “bystander effect.”  I could not find any one book that was specifically written about Kitty Genovese as a person, and that also included details about her attack and murder, and also provided factual information about Winston Moseley, her killer.

It took a considerable amount of research, but I did learn much of the information about Kitty Genovese and Winston Moseley that Kevin Cook has included in his new book.  I also learned that Kitty was a strong-willed, hard-working, and generous woman, who had wanted to open up her own restaurant and go to Italy.  I learned more of the details about her attack and death at the hands of Winston Moseley, and of his subsequent arrest, trial, and conviction for his role in her attack and murder.  As Cook has done in his book, I also researched Winston Moseley’s life.  I also learned that Winston Moseley was married, had two children, and was employed at the time that he attacked and killed Kitty Genovese.  Curious to know Winston Moseley’s current inmate status, I researched the website for the state of New York’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision: http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov.  As of this date, their records currently show that Winston Moseley, Department Identification Number (DIN) 64A0102, is still incarcerated at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.  Winston Moseley is 79 years old, the same age that Kitty Genovese would be if she were alive today.

Through the extensive research that Kevin Cook has presented in his book Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America I learned even more about both Kitty Genovese and Winston Moseley than I had already learned from my own research.  I was especially surprised to learn that Winston Moseley and I both have Michigan roots.  As a child, Winston Moseley spent time in the Holly, Michigan area.  The Great Lakes National Cemetery is located in Holly, Michigan, and my Dad is buried in that cemetery.

Kevin Cook’s book Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America is a sensitively written and compelling book that is long overdue.  I’d recommend this book for many reasons.  It’s a great biography of a young woman, who for many reasons, has become iconic in the American culture.  It is a book that has identified some of the more well-known myths about what happened on the night that Kitty Genovese was attacked and killed by Winston Moseley, and provides evidence that debunks those same myths.  Catherine Susan “Kitty” Genovese deserves to have people know more about her than how she died, and readers will find that in this book.

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