Thirty-Eight Witnesses

Thirty-Eight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case
A. M. Rosenthal

The 1964 murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese (author A. M. Rosenthal thought using the nickname “impudently familiar,” and so didn’t) was transformed almost immediately into a parable of modern urban life, in large part due to some sensationalist and sloppy initial reporting. In fact, there were probably only a handful of witnesses at most, and perhaps only a couple of those who displayed truly culpable behaviour. In this contemporary account, however, the emphasis is on the bigger picture anyway, with Rosenthal attempting to place the events in a larger moral context – a “broader truth and deeper understanding.” It is this questioning that makes the case still relevant, even if the facts of the story have been largely turned into the stuff of legend.