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Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black…

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down… (2018)

by Stephen L. Carter

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7715229,165 (3.6)9



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Eunice Hunton Carter was an amazing woman, and I'm glad that Stephen Carter wrote this book about her. Ms. Carter lived in a time when it was shocking for a woman to want to be more than a wife and a mother and shocking for an African-American to want to be an attorney, and yet she got her law degree and had an amazing career.

Mr. Carter writes engaging narrative non-fiction, and makes his subject, her surroundings and the time in which she lived come alive. I had intended to share my copy of the book with all of the women lawyers I know (and I know a lot of them!), but after a discussion with a male colleague, I think men are the ones who need to read this book as a reminder that women's incredible achievements can get swept under the rug of history.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  Jammies | Feb 23, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Brilliant and ambitious, Eunice Hunton Carter was the only woman lawyer, and a colored one at that, among nineteen white males hired by Thomas E. Dewey to create a legal squad to take down the mob. It was Eunice listening to citizens' complaints about prostitution; untouchable madams and invulnerable brothels whose girls always went free. She dug through records that had been compiled by the Committee of Fourteen pertaining to New York City's vice and discovered a pattern. Trying to get Dewey or any of her male counterparts to listen to her was another story. She persisted and succeeded in persuading in Murray Gurfein and Thomas Dewey that the prostitution was being organized on a higher level by the mob. Eunice organized raids where the police quietly arrested bookers and fixers so that when the brothels were raided the madams and their girls would have no one to spring them. Despite her brilliance Eunice was thwarted in her quest to become a judge and while she often appeared in newspapers she didn't want become another Harlem"sassiety" Czarina trying to maintain her spot on The Great Social Pyramid. She would blame her lack of advancement on her brother's scandalous behavior and communist activities which led to his imprisonment. His name was linked to hers whenever his was in the news. A very interesting book ( )
  lisa.schureman | Nov 5, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Having been a fan of Carter’s novels for a dozen years or so, I was quite excited to read this even though at the time I chose it I didn’t know it was about his grandmother. When I realized that my expectations shifted; I anticipated something more personal, but what I got was distance, as if he wasn’t related to Eunice at all. All through the book I wondered if family strife kept him from having a relationship with her, but no, he met her. At the very end he shares his regret that he didn’t get to know her better when he had the chance.

It might have been to keep a neutral voice or to keep from judging her decisions and actions by the light of today, or just to guard against sentimentality, but whatever it was it made for a more clinical “just the facts” sort of book, even though many of those facts don’t seem to come straight from Eunice. For a woman so driven, so educated, so lauded you would think there would be more of a paper trail. Alas, there are no letters, minutes, memoranda, journals or even legal briefs to be found. That kept me at a remove from her, as maybe she would have liked, but I would have liked Carter to personalize this more - to inject his memories and memorabilia into things to give it some heart. She was in many respects a remarkable woman - for her time, for our time, for any time. Her story was informative and interesting, but took some willpower to get through. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Oct 20, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I feel generous and will give INVISIBLE three stars.

The tone of the book is very impersonal, surprisingly so since the author was Eunice's grandson. The attitudes ascribed to her seemed more those of her grandson. Her story seemed colored by his impression of what her story was. His attitudes show through, and one has no way to know how she felt.

One anticipated the book would be about how she took down Lucky Luciano, but that was a disappointingly small part of the book and you're left wondering if this is all there is about her part in the case, or if this is all she was responsible for.

Eunice Carter had a story that should be told and enjoyed by everyone, but perhaps her grandson was not the person to tell it. Her life was not boring, but the book was. ( )
  mysterymax | Sep 23, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Subtitled "The forgotten story of the black woman lawyer who took down America's most powerful mobster". It turned out that that part was just a small portion of the book. The book was written by the grandson of Eunice Carter, himself an acclaimed author. Unfortunately, this book reads more like a textbook. It seems to be meticulously researched; however, has no attributes by Eunice. So he adds a lot of supposition to how she might have felt or reacted when he really has no firsthand knowledge as Eunice did not leave any memoirs behind and she died when he was young. I was intrigued by the story and amazed at the professional level she attained as a black woman (the author refers to blacks as a Darker Nation) in the 40's and 50's. It was very interesting to read about the society (sassiety) of upper class blacks at the time but I think Mr. Carter dwells too much on that aspect of life which, for me, decreased my appeal to Eunice. And although I admire her, the fact that she had her son live with relatives or in boarding school for most of his years so she could make a name for herself, detracts from her image. ( )
  bogopea | Sep 19, 2018 |
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Book description
She was black and a woman and a prosecutor, a graduate of Smith College and the granddaughter of slaves, as dazzlingly unlikely a combination as one could imagine in New York of the 1930s—and without the strategy she devised, Lucky Luciano, the most powerful Mafia boss in history, would never have been convicted. When special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey selected twenty lawyers to help him clean up the city’s underworld, she was the only member of his team who was not a white male.
Eunice Hunton Carter, Stephen Carter’s grandmother, was raised in a world of stultifying expectations about race and gender, yet by the 1940s, her professional and political successes had made her one of the most famous black women in America. But her triumphs were shadowed by prejudice and tragedy. Greatly complicating her rise was her difficult relationship with her younger brother, Alphaeus, an avowed Communist who—together with his friend Dashiell Hammett—would go to prison during the McCarthy era. Yet she remained unbowed.
Moving, haunting, and as fast-paced as a novel, Invisible tells the true story of a woman who often found her path blocked by the social and political expectations of her time. But Eunice Carter never accepted defeat, and thanks to her grandson’s remarkable book, her long forgotten story is once again visible.
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