Monday, June 22, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Mayor of Castro Street

Not only does Randy Shilts’ biography of Harvey Milk shed light on all aspects of his life, but also reveals miniscule encounters and facts that combined, create a beautiful, well-crafted story.
Though widely classified as a biography, there is a lot more to be found in this epic battle for civil rights. This book does not read like other biographies. There is something about the style that brings you into a wonderfully poetic and elaborate story of good and evil. Maybe it’s the incredibly detailed and well-researched complexity of city politics, which gives intention to Harvey's decisions and political style, or maybe it’s the heart breaking severity of Milk’s struggle to make a difference in the world. Either way, there is something in this book for every reader.
There is another reason why many readers who tend to steer away from biographical works should invest some time in Mayor of Castro Street. Mr. Shilts includes events, in his book,that took place far before and after Milk’s life, which ultimately opens the view of homosexuality’s place in our society over the past two hundred years.
While this book is one of the most famous pieces of non-fiction gay literature, it is also one of the most debated. Many gay historical figures (even some that happen to be depicted in the book, including Cleve Jones) disagree with many statements made in Shilts’ book, as well as actions made within the author’s personal life.
Though many do disagree, most scholars and historians will testify to Mayor of Castro Street being the most accurate and detailed account of modern gay history.

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