• The Mayor of Castro Street

  • The Life and Times of Harvey Milk
  • By: Randy Shilts
  • Narrated by: Marc Vietor
  • Length: 16 hrs
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 08-11-09
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.6 (140 ratings)

Regular price: $34.95

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Editorial 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
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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.
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Critic Reviews

"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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gretchen SLP on 11-20-16


"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+

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Joseph G. on 01-29-15

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!

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4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Vicuña on 04-27-16

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.

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