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Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  663 ratings  ·  150 reviews
The bestselling author delves into his past and discovers the inspiring story of his grandmother’s extraordinary life

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 powerfu
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Picador USA (first published October 9th 2017)
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Firish I've only just begun & was shocked to the core when I read in the very early pages about dead Negro body parts being sold as souvenirs. I would…moreI've only just begun & was shocked to the core when I read in the very early pages about dead Negro body parts being sold as souvenirs. I would not hesitate to let a high schooler read this book, but I would think twice before giving it to a middle schooler no matter how mature. Mainly because our middle schoolers may indeed be rather mature, but in retrospect, not as much as we thought of them at the time. As they say, IMHO.(less)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  663 ratings  ·  150 reviews

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Stephen L. Carter normally writes suspense novels about black lawyers. This book is his first into the realm of non-fiction. He is writing about his maternal grandmother.

I found this book about Eunice Roberta Hunton Carter (1899-1970) fascinating. Stephen tells what it was like to be an intelligent ambitious black female in the 1920s and 30s. The book opens with the story of the 1906 race riots in Atlanta, GA. Eunice and her family huddled in their house listening to the white mob coming closer
Donna Davis
I received a review copy of this affectionate, well-documented biography free and early thanks to Net Galley and Henry Holt. This book is for sale now.

Eunice Hunton Carter was the author’s grandmother, and though her name is little known today, she was an exceptional woman, a scholar, political activist, and social diva that did extraordinary things during a time period when it was nearly impossible for women of color to rise professionally. Carter tells of her impact on what he calls “the dark
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing at a local bookstore the author Stephen L. Carter speak about his paternal grandmother Eunice Huston Carter (1899-1970). Sometime later, after the Q&A session, I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Carter as he autographed my copy of this book.

"INVISIBLE: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster" puts the reader into an era in U.S. history barely half a century behind us, when African Am
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Story of a successful and well respected family. We learn all about Eunice Carter’s grandparents and famous parents, finally getting around to Eunice in chapter 5. Eunice knew she wanted to be a lawyer at a young age “to put the bad people in jail.” She received her Bachelors and Masters degree in 4 years. Ran in the same social circles as Langston Hughes, WEB Dubois, and Zora Neale Hurston. We learn all about the accomplishments of the people around Eunice including her mother and infamous brot ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How disappointing to read a terrible book by a competent author. Carter’s overlong, badly edited history of his unpleasant grandmother is an uneasy mix of family memoir, awkward social commentary, and ham handed potboiler. Purporting in the breathless subtitle, to tell “the forgotten story of the Black woman lawyer who took down America's most powerful mobster” Carter’s account of the Lucky Luciano case takes up a mere 44 of the books 384 pages, and exaggerates her role; while Eunice Carter did ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG my fifth five star in a row. I have to stop reading books I like.

The story of Eunice Hunton-Carter, a woman relatively unknown to history, but who is so important to how we live, work and think today. Born in 1899, becoming one of the first female black lawyers in the US, she was utterly amazing. Driven, dignified, poised, intellectually-gifted, ambitious, she was also - as the title says - the one who helped take down Lucky Luciano, one of the wealthiest, most corrupt and most powerful mobs
Cassy Hodges
I heard about this book on my favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder. I was so excited to read about a badass trailblazing black lady, which I think Eunice is, but this biography is all over the place. The case highlighted in the title is basically just that, a highlight in a nonlinear (confusing approach for a bio) tale of one woman grinding out a career. I either would have liked it to focus more on the particular case in the title or taken a more meaningful look at her life as a whole. It was j ...more
Dee Dee G
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The amount of research Stephen Carter did for this book about his grandmother is incredible.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-books
The story within Invisible is an important one, but unfortunately it reads too much like a textbook.  As author, Stephen L. Carter, weaves the tale of Eunice's childhood, contributions, scholarly pursuits and beyond, the reader becomes so lost in the details that the important contributions of Eunice Hunton Carter are buried.  It was more than evident the author’s motivations for writing this book, as his grandmother it was crucial for him to put her story on paper.  However, from a broader stro ...more
Rebecca McPhedran
Eunice Hunton Carter was a formidable prosecutor who helped imprison one of New York's most infamous gangsters, yet, her name is almost completely wiped from the history of our country. Why? Probably because of her race and her gender. She did not believe that a woman's place was in the home, and she took ever opportunity to make a name for herself. Not only was she a prosecutor, but she was a prolific writer, and an active member in the forming of the United Nations and the National Council of ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A biography of the author’s notable grandmother, Eunice Hunton Carter, it is also a vibrant history of the “darker nation” in the first half of the 20th Century and the political climate during that time. As one of the first black female attorneys, her story is one very worth reading.
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
I picked this up because I was interested in an African American woman having brought down Lucky Luciano. I enjoyed that part of the story. I don't particularly care for politics in anyway so the rest the book was quite dull for me.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the 1930s, Thomas E. Dewey was appointed as a special prosecutor to combat organized crime in New York. He put together a team of prosecuting attorneys - 19 men and one woman, a black woman, Eunice Hunton Carter. The men were tasked with investigating illegal gambling, murders and other expected specialties of organized crime except prostitution. That was assigned to the lone woman and Eunice did what no one else could - she brought Lucky Luciano to justice. The author, Stephen Carter, is the ...more
Steve Sanderson
Couldn’t afford an editor

This is a poorly written and documented book about Eunice Hunton Carter, which never saw an editor. But the great faults are the excessive surmise (she must have thought, probably, quite possibly) without support; treatment of great historical events (presidential elections, the conviction of Lucky Luciano, the birth of the UN, the communist witch hunts of the 1950s) as if they were bit players in Ms. Carter’s life; the unending sense of personal grievance, etc. she come
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-harder-2019
Read for Read Harder 2019 #19: A book of nonviolent true crime.
Feb 15, 2019 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Quit at 30%/ chapter 5 where Eunice has finally gotten her law degree, I understand the need for background information but the author wanted to put everything in the book, seriously everything. Eunice and her mother Addie seem like some amazing women his book does them nothing for their legacy.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is kind of a hot mess. Honestly, the idea of this book is amazing and I was excited to get it from Net galley. As a bit of a history nerd, I was excited to learn something about someone who was clearly overlooked. The problem here is that I have to keep stopping because I get seasick. I can read a long, convoluted book with a complex plot. I can read a book with a non-linear plot. However, non-fiction is not supposed to be those things. This book tells us how it ends in the introductio ...more
This was a fine read but I wish it would have focused more on the actual trial of Luciano. All the contextual information about the family was helpful, but the actual trial portion is quite small in this book.
Jan P
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
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 a ...more
To me, this book was so disappointing! I was expecting a bigger emphasis on Eunice Carter's thinking and tactics in taking down Lucky Luciano. But instead her grandson told me of her unhappy life with her mother, her endless high society life in Harlem during it's peak, and her neglect of her son.

It was written by her author grandson, meticulously researched but it included too many details that it became like a dull textbook. Her social life was very important to her but I do not think so much
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decided to rent this book because it was a woman going against a higher-up criminal. Quite honestly, if I found this same story online with about 5 pages, I would have been up in arms with how awesome Eunice was. However, this book focused on a lot of side facts that didn't seem to be what I thought it would be. The relevant facts about the criminal case were only contained in about 5 chapters; the rest of the book was about her upbringing, her brother, her marriage, and her political career. Do ...more
Blake Fraina
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I sit down to write this review, it’s Oscar night 2019, but I’m already thinking ahead to the 2022 Oscars. The night when an amazing, underutilized black actress, like Cynthia Errivo, Regina King or Danai Gurira, will be nominated for her portrayal of the ground-breaking, if little known, lawyer Eunice Hunton Carter. If Stephen Carter, her grandson and the author of this cracker-jack biography, isn’t already fielding calls from Hollywood, I’d be very surprised and, quite frankly, disappointed ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book told an interesting story about an incredibly hard working woman I knew nothing about before reading it.

The history was fascinating. Eunice Carter was a woman of color who became a lawyer in the 1930s. She was hugely influential in the arrest and trial of the mafia mob boss Lucky Luciano. That story was just a cool one to read about no matter what, and she went on to do a lot of other really impressive things as well.

Being written by her grandson, there was interesting family history/
1930's New York City, Charles "Lucky" Luciano was convicted of compulsory prostitution in which District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey and his team of lawyers collectively took down the notorious mobster. Among this dream team was Eunice Hunton Carter, the author's grandmother. Not only was her contribution to the case paramount, but it was extremely unusual. Not only was she female but she was also a highly educated, high society black woman. This story delved deep into Eunice's past with her family ...more
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish

This woman had some amazing accomplishments, and helped pave the way for black people to follow her on this earth. However, I felt like the book went into way too much detail, and I found myself not interested in half of it.
Daniel Farabaugh
This book was a good and warm biography of the author's grandmother. She does not let her family relationship cloud her judgement. More of the book was given over to the social life of Harlem in this time period, but overall enjoyable.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really struggled with this book club pick. It was very sluggish and disjointed. I was bored and disappointed.
Amber Spencer
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this remarkable women or her mother. So grateful these stories are coming to light again.
Shannan Harper
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read about a black woman who during the 1930's became a lawyer and was instrumental in getting a mobster by the name of Lucky Luciano prosecuted.
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Manchester Distri...: "Invisible" by Stephen L. Carter 1 6 Oct 24, 2018 07:42AM  

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Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale where he has taught since 1982. He has published seven critically acclaimed nonfiction books on topics ranging from affirmative action to religion and politics. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), was an immediate national best seller. His latest novel is New England White (Knopf, 2007). A recipient of the NAA ...more
“Negroes were constantly being arrested in the city, for crimes they committed and for crimes they did not, for rudeness or talking back or looking at a white woman, for being in the wrong neighborhood or being suspected of being in the vicinity of the wrong neighborhood. Upon conviction, many of these men were, in the words of one historian, "literally sold to the highest bidders." Convicts were much in demand as workers, and the state, not the convict, got the wage.” 0 likes
“My parents, like so many others in the darker nation, shared the family stories of achievement but omitted the details of racial slights and discrimination, as if the telling were subject to what the historian Jonathan Holloway describes as a “psychologically enduring editor’s pencil.” So for me, writing this book has been a journey of discovery,” 0 likes
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