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February 25, 2014

Two very different interpretations of one event

50 years later, two books reexamine the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese.

"New Details In One Of NYC's Most Infamous Murders Show The Scary Power Of 'The Bystander Effect'".

Kitty Genovese's neighbors — who did nothing to help her as she was brutally raped and murdered in Kew Gardens 50 years ago — were even more indifferent to the young victim's screams than has previously been reported, according to a new book.

"Debunking the myth of Kitty Genovese".

But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Nor­ton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.

The account of the murder at the top of this story is accurate, based on Cook’s reporting. Instead of a narrative of apathy, the media could have told instead of the people who tried to help, and of the complex circumstances — many boiling down to a lack not of compassion, but of information — that prevented some ­others from calling for aid.

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