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The Mayor of Castro Street : The Life and…

The Mayor of Castro Street : The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

by Randy Shilts

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5611417,757 (4.13)14
  1. 00
    When We Rise: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones (Kiddboyblue)
    Kiddboyblue: Cleve Jones was Harvey Milk's prodigy and in many ways took up the mantle for Milk after his death.
  2. 00
    San Francisco's Castro by Strange De Jim (LibraryRCDallas)

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
What I was hoping for was a glimpse into the life and times of Harvey Milk, but what I ended up getting from this biography was so much more. Shilts not only shines a light on Milk, he digs deeper in the history of San Fransisco, Castro Street, the Gay Movement and the people with whom Harvey surrounded himself. There was so much information packed into this biography, it ended up feeling more like a history book, which I loved!
Shilt's background as an investigative journalist really helped shape the book to be more of a journalistic approach to Harvey's life, rather than a biased or emotional one. While Shilts did know Harvey personally, he still ensured he approached this work with an eye for facts and information far more then opinions and feelings. This approach both added to and took away from the overall narrative for me. In one aspect the unbiased narrative allowed for a more honest look into Milk's life, attitude, and personality. He did not try and shine Harvey in a perfect light, painting him as a saint or un-flawed, but rather tried to allow for the reader to see Harvey as a human being who fought for a cause, but was in his own was flawed. Too often we can raise marters up onto pedastools and create a perfect image of them, that is far from the real people they were. This was not the case, and I felt like Shilt's did Milk's story justice in this way.
Where it distracted for me was in the emotional aspect. The weight and emotional toll of some of the events told in the history felt less due to the delivery of the facts. My personal connection to them somehow seemed less because there seemed little emotion in the writing of the events. I would have loved to feel more.
Even without that emotional weight, Harvey Milk's life sunk into me, and I fell in love with him even more. I fell in love with his ideals, his passion, his spirit, his drive, his politics, and his unwavering stance on gay rights. I needed to read this biography, and so does any gay man or woman, or LGBT ally, so we can know more about the man who helped push the Gay rights movement forward perhaps more than any other man or woman ever. ( )
  Kiddboyblue | May 10, 2017 |
Was curios about reading this after watching the film Milk. Meh. It was so compartmentalized at points that I got mixed up. ( )
  Tanya.Book.Hughes | Dec 20, 2016 |

"...our anguish and grief permeate everything we do...We silently rail...we cry out to reverse the irrevocable." (Dianne Feinstein, 284)

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come." (Victor Hugo, 286)

"We can start immediately by no longer trying to legislate morality." (Harvey Milk, 350) ( )
  JennyArch | Feb 4, 2015 |
Living today in a world where I have openly gay friends and relatives, and where the national debate is on same sex marriage, it was amazing to me to see how far LGBT progress has come within my lifetime. Harvey Milk is portrayed as a man obsessively devoted to his cause, which in the broadest definition, was gay rights. Shilts portrays Milk as a man with the potential for greatness, hampered by his own weaknesses. Nonetheless, Harvey Milk probably had the potential to become a truly great politician (meaning that as a rare complment, not as an oxymoron) had is life not been cut short so tragically. ( )
  fingerpost | Aug 13, 2014 |
I didn't read the book until after I had watched the movie, and it was good to know a little bit more about the people in Milk's life--as well as the acknowledgement of some of Milk's less than admirable qualities.

It's hard to believe, but compared to the book, I think the movie ends on a high note. (I cried both times when watching it...) But this book goes further into the aftermath of San Francisco, and the atrocities that were once forgotten for homosexuals were reinstated.

At times Shilts' writing was confusing. He would describe a list of people and how they were related to each other (whose lover they were)...but he would switch from referring to the person by their first or last name--in mid sentence. Maybe this is a journalistic thing (? He did mention how much of journalist he was), but I found it confusing and at times terribly boring.

Overall, this is a good read, especially anyone who wants to get more information that was missing from the movie.

I think to what my friend told me after watching the movie for the first time, "It's amazing that, thirty years later, we are still fighting for the same rights." And it's true.... ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Randy Shiltsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schmid, BernhardÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vietor, MarcNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312019009, Paperback)

When Randy Shilts's The Mayor of Castro Street appeared in 1982, the very idea of a gay political biography was brand-new. While biographies of literary and artistic figures (both living and dead) were a popular genre, there had been no openly gay political figure who merited a full-length book. Harvey Milk--a gay political organizer who became the first openly gay city supervisor in San Francisco and was then assassinated (along with liberal mayor George Moscone)--was the obvious choice for such a book. And Randy Shilts--a young reporter who had risen up through the gay press to become the first openly gay reporter with a gay "beat" in the American mainstream press--was the perfect person to write it. While his later works such as And the Band Played On and Conduct Unbecoming were based on hard-hitting, fact-driven reportage, Shilts's tone in The Mayor of Castro Street is softer, more focused on the narrative of Harvey Milk's political rise from running a small business on Castro Street, to organizing local gay men and lesbians around grass-roots issues, to winning an elected office. But in many ways this is also a forceful and engaging story of the gay rights movement in the second half of the 20th century. Thus, Shilts follows the growth of the Castro as a gay neighborhood and the growth of San Francisco's gay community from a ragtag collection of people who socialized and sexualized together into a vibrant and political force. --Michael Bronski

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:35 -0400)

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