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.
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
"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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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!
- Joseph G.
- David A. Heckman