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And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, 20th-Anniversary Edition Paperback – November 27, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the first major book on AIDS, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Randy Shilts examines the making of an epidemic. Shilts researched and reported the book exhaustively, chronicling almost day-by-day the first five years of AIDS. His work is critical of the medical and scientific communities' initial response and particularly harsh on the Reagan Administration, who he claims cut funding, ignored calls for action and deliberately misled Congress. Shilts doesn't stop there, wondering why more people in the gay community, the mass media and the country at large didn't stand up in anger more quickly. The AIDS pandemic is one of the most striking developments of the late 20th century and this is the definitive story of its beginnings. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"An exhaustive account of the early years of the AIDS crisis, this outlines the medical, social and political forces behind the epidemic's origin and rapid spread," reported PW . "The book stands as a definitive reminder of the shameful injustice inflicted on this nation by the institutions in which we put our trust . . . a landmark work." 200,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Revised edition (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312374631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312374631
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Very interesting book, well organized and all encompassing.
Janice Dorgan
Randy Shilts did a great job of writing an interesting story while maintaining the truth of the AIDS epidemic!
Kristin Hines
I keep this book on my treasured book shelf so I will never forget how bad things can get in this country.
B. Blanton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 135 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on April 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Randy Shilts masterpiece, "And The Band Played On", reads like a detective story; from the discovery of an unusual new organism that was killing a few people slowly and inexorably in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and multiplied exponentially underground until it exploded into the number one health catastrophe on the planet.

The fact that AIDS at first took its heaviest toll among gay men, and then among intravenous drug users, guaranteed that its early victims would become outcasts. The AIDS panic seems unbelievable in retrospect but was all too real in the 80s; people were forced off their jobs, children were barred from schools, and anyone who belonged to the "4-H club" (homosexuals, hard-drug users, hemophiliacs, and -- incredibly -- Haitians) were treated like pariahs. The secrecy and denial in dealing with the crisis helped it to spread unabated.

Shilts pulls no punches in writing this book. He is equally angry at the Reagan administration which preached pious platitudes while withholding desperately needed funds for medical research; the radical gay community which refused to acknowledge its own responsibility for the sexually promiscuous behavior that helped spread the disease like wildfire, and those in the medical community who played grandstanding politics and plain old-fashioned spite while patients were dying all around them. And then of course there was the media, which treated this puzzling, terrifying new disease -- which for two years after its discovery didn't even have a name -- as something the "general public" didn't have to be concerned about, until heterosexual men and women began to be infected.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book several years ago, and the effect of that reading is still making an impact on my life.
Randy Shilts blends science, sexuality, politics and humanity into a gripping and emotion-provoking story detailing the rise of the AIDS Epidemic. By drawing the readers into the lives of individuals and communities at the core of the epidemic, Shilts gives them the opportunity to see how the epidemic developed and spread, and the ways in which it was allowed to spread further, thru apathy, inaction, ignorance (both deliberate and not), fear, and even egotism.
When I listen to the news in today's world, and I hear accounts of the post-9/11 Anthrax scares, or the recent pneumonia illness that has now affected some 1,500 people -- my heart aches. Not to discount the reality of these illnesses, but all I can remember is how angered and saddened I felt as I read "And the Band Played On" and realized that hundreds of thousands of people were infected before the word AIDS was ever mentioned in the media. I was a sophmore in college when I first remember hearing about AIDS. That was in 1987. How many people had died from the disease before I even knew what it was????
I feel everyone should read this book. It doesn't just apply to people in high-risk populations. I happen to be a young heterosexual female, and this book made such an impression on me, that last summer, I found myself joining a 350-mile bike marathon to raise money and awareness for people living with HIV and AIDS. When people asked me why I was doing the ride, I told them about "And the Band Played On."
Randy Shilts' book is haunting and most of all, REAL. The only bad thing is that the book ends -- AIDS doesn't.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Trixie on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm sure most people are familiar with the story but just as very brief background Randy Shilts was a reporter at the epicenter of the AIDS crisis when it first began. When his paper assigned him to cover the story on a regular basis (the only paper in the country to do so), he gained access to an vast wealth of material and a unique perspective-one that for many years went largely unreported by most of the media until the death of Rock Hudson changed everything. Shilts discovered he himself was HIV positive after he finished the book; he had asked his doctor not to reveal the test results to him until then. He passed way in 1994. His work to alert his own community on the coming health crisis often made him a pariah within it.
This is an amazing history of how the virus took off in America and an insight into why it remained so under-reported for so long. The story involves some very brave patients, some very irresponsible ones, incredibly dedicated medical professionals, major bungling by our government and the blood industry-some of it intentional and some paths paved with good intentions, and the mixed, frustrating reaction of the gay community itself. Shilts doesn't write completely without bias-he calls the decision of the CDC to release patient names to an NYC bloodbank "incredibly stupid" but who wouldn't agree with him on that point? Also, Shilt's fury at certain members of the Reagan administration and Reagan himself is palpable. Once again though, who wouldn't agree with him once the story has been unfolded. His anger is not limited just to the government nor is this just an anti-Republican screed-he praises Orrin Hatch and Everett Koop while bitterly recalling the inaction of Ed Koch's administration in New York. Gay leaders also are not always portrayed in a flattering light.
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