Book Review: “No One Helped: Kitty Genovese, New York City and the Myth of Urban Apathy” By Marcia M. Gallo

Reviewed by Beverly Scott

"No One Helped" by Marcia Gallo, book review, Kitty Genovese

Author Marcia Gallo examines the Kitty Genovese case, with thorough and detailed research. Gallo examines the accounts of her tragic death beginning with the early reports the New York Times and other papers. Gallo then shines light on how the details of her attack and her lesbian relationship. But key to the case, authorities and media ignored or inaccurately reported the actual response of her neighbors.

She demonstrates how media bias created and perpetuated the myth of the moral apathy of her neighbors. The Times reporting, and especially editor A.M. Rosenthal’s personal interpretation of inaccurate facts of the case, are at fault. His version of the events has lived on. Yet fifty years later, the story of Kitty Genovese continues to circulate in popular culture, with the myth of urban apathy.

Some of us remember and many of us have heard the story of Kitty Genovese. She was raped and murdered in New York in 1964. I remember as a young woman hearing about her murder. Consequently I felt terrified to go to New York City. I also believed that New Yorkers were an uncaring bunch. Most of what we have heard is wrong.


Gallo presents a clear and accessible historical narrative. She covers the public reporting, the residents of the Kew Gardens neighborhood in Queens where the murder took place, the emerging lesbian and gay community, the issues with reporting a crime during that time, Kitty Genovese’s family and lover, and the many other influences which have often been ignored. This historical narrative doesn’t deliver the emotional drama of crime fiction. But it is a well written and detailed analysis of a significant historical and cultural event. The back cover describes it well.

No One Helped traces the Kitty Genovese story’s development and resilience while challenging the myth it created.