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The Mayor of Castro Street Audiobook

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

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Audible Editor Reviews

Harvey Milk, "Mayor of Castro Street" and the first openly gay elected official, is a political hero whose life story is well-worth brushing up on. Randy Shilts, a former reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle, produced this comprehensive and unparalleled in-depth look at the evolution of the man and his city. This unique and compelling tale, narrated with journalistic flair by Marc Vietor, tracks Milk from high school through his late forties when he finally won a seat in city government, to the tragic moment when he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by co-worker Dan White, and the social and political aftermath of that fateful day. First-time listeners and those that keep coming back to this book every few years alike will find themselves troubled by the discovery of its eerie echo in current California politics, but relieved to remember that all is not lost.

Giving voice to the lively and inimitable original purveyor of the "hope" speech is no easy task, and Vietor wisely plays it safe by sticking to his natural voice with a few appropriately flamboyant inflections peppered throughout the direct quotations from Milk and his motley crew of activists. Colorful and filled with deep characterization though the story is, Shilts ultimately meant for the book to be read as a significant and serious piece of history. Vietor's contemplative approach to the tone is necessarily dignified and equipped to deliver this education, but does not sink into the sedate or severe.

As Milk grows into himself, so too does the San Francisco gay scene. Shilts' definitive biography includes several appendices for Milk's best original speeches, with Vietor providing a rousing snapshot into the political ideology of the late 1970s. This Audible Modern Vanguard production also includes a James Atlas interview with Larry Kramer, the award-winning playwright and AIDS activist who worked extensively with Shilts on his other masterwork, And The Band Played On. The interview highlights how dedicated Shilts was to illuminating a history of the gay community that would promote optimism within that community as well as genuine acceptance and support of it from the outside. Though the gay studies genre has exploded with publications since Shilts first published this pioneering book in 1982, The Mayor of Castro Street remains one of the major classics in contemporary nonfiction writing. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

Known as The Mayor of Castro Street even before he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk's personal life, public career, and final assassination reflect the dramatic emergence of the gay community as a political power in America. It is a story full of personal tragedies and political intrigues, assassinations at City Hall, massive riots in the streets, the miscarriage of justice, and the consolidation of gay power and gay hope.

Harvey Milk has been the subject of numerous books and movies, including the Academy Award-winning 1984 documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk. His life is also the basis of a 2008 major motion picture Milk, starring Sean Penn.

As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Randy Shilts' book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Larry Kramer about the life and work of Randy Shilts – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.

This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.

©2008 Randy Shilts (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A no-holds-barred character study and a history of the local gay movement....An investigative piece on the mechanics of big-city government in all its expedient, back-biting splendor." (The Washington Post)

"A remarkable work [of] biography, social history, and political machination... Exceptional." (The Los Angeles Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (115 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Julia 03-15-16
    Julia 03-15-16 Member Since 2016

    British ex-pat living in NC. Have more personalities than Sybil which is reflected in my choice of books! Frustrated writer at heart.

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    ""Should Be Required Reading In High School""

    Randy Shilts knew Harvey Milk well. That is obvious. This book is a historical document that reports Milk's mission for change. Although I was alive during this time I lived in Europe. I did not have to experience any of these challenges. I cannot imagine how horrendous life must have been to live in fear of fellow Human Beings just because you love someone who just happen to be the same gender as yourself. Although I am not naive enough to think that these things are not still happening I know that Milk was a pioneer. A brave pioneer indeed.

    Marc Vietor gives an animated and 'time stands still' type of performance'.

    A beautifully and compassionate volume for anyone who is interested in this period of history.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph G. Los Angeles, CA 01-29-15
    Joseph G. Los Angeles, CA 01-29-15
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    "Excellent Book!!!!!"
    Would you listen to The Mayor of Castro Street again? Why?

    Yes, I would hear it again. It was an excellent look into the life of one of the Twentieth Century's greatest civil rights heroes. I enjoyed every bit of this book, and highly recommend it!


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David A. Heckman 06-19-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Fascinating"

    I knew some of his story and saw my he film Milk several times. This however filled in some of the other things I was not aware of his life if San Francisco and others during this time period. I highly encourage all to read this story. It's a in depth look at the gay culture of the 70's and before.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 04-14-15
    Chris 04-14-15
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    "Excellent historical perspective of an activist."

    This story is especially important to remember. And also for the younger generations of LGBT folks out there to know how the movement to obtain equal rights for us all began. Harvey Milk is in all of us and we all have work to do still!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 11-20-16
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 11-20-16 Member Since 2014

    Avid listener on my daily commute!

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    "11/27/78"

    "This tape is to be played in the event of my assassination." So begins the message recorded by Harvey Milk on the eve of his swearing in as California's first openly gay elected public official. When he was murdered along with San Francisco's mayor just 11 months later, this country lost the man who was well on his way to becoming its most courageous, charismatic, and visionary civil rights leader since MLK. For many years, The Times of Harvey Milk (which won the Academy Award for best documentary in 1984) has been our family's favorite movie, and I thought I already knew Harvey's story so well that there was nothing new to be learned by reading this book. I was very wrong. This book is not just the story of a movement and its unlikely hero, a man who was as good as his word and crusaded for the rights of ALL people: gays, straights, seniors, the disabled, and ethnic minorities. It provides a detailed and compelling overview of San Francisco politics and history (I had no idea of the significance of District elections vs citywide elections) as well as the edge-of-your-seat courtroom drama surrounding one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice our country has ever seen (in which the prosecutor never once mentioned the word "assassination," much less introduced a motive or any evidence of malice, a necessary element for any murder conviction). Harvey, we hardly knew ye; we could certainly use your help in the battles to come. Grade: A+

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    CLN Sacramento, CA United States 07-09-16
    CLN Sacramento, CA United States 07-09-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Great Story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Mayor of Castro Street the most enjoyable?

    I love to read bio's. This one was great even after seeing the actual movie and documentary of Milk's life.


    What did you like best about this story?

    N/A


    Have you listened to any of Marc Vietor’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    N/A

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Bookie
    UK
    4/27/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Compelling narrative"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Difficult to believe what was really going on only some 30 odd years ago. Puts changes into perspective.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Milk is central to the narrative and I was swept along by his intentions and actions.


    Which character – as performed by Marc Vietor – was your favourite?

    None, it's a biography and it's read as such.


    Any additional comments?

    Compelling and sometimes unbelievable tale of persecution and discrimination in modern America.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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