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And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic Paperback – November 1, 2011
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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 the Hardcover edition.
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 the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
I always knew I'd read this book eventually, but as with any long non-fiction tome there comes a risk that at some point your attention span might have to bow out. Not here: this book holds your interest on nearly every page (I skipped one or two of the more dense courtroom testimony pages, but often later went back to read them anyway). Randy Shilts does not ask for your time lightly - every chapter here is earned.
It seems almost an omniscient narrative voice in involved, and with over 900 interviews and his own previous years of investigative work on AIDS, there's a reason for that.
Before reading, I had foolishly assumed the word politics had been added to the title to sex it up a bit. Nope. The story of the various responses people, communities, and entire governments had to AIDS was all about politics. So often reading this book did I get the impression you could actually hear the bullet whiz past your ear. If you were born around or before 1980 in a first world country and ever had a blood transplant, this could have been your story too. While Mr. Shilts avoids sensationalism, the story is sensational enough in its barest facts for that point to be clear.
I immediately looked up the author to learn more about what he had written only to discover he too died from AIDS in the 1990's. His book, already a tribute to a lost generation, is now an example of all the substantive contributions those men and women could've made if politics could have been shoved aside sooner.
This book is a rare thing: it is both a great, historic work and a damn good read. Would that Randy Shilts had lived long enough to give us many more of its calibre.