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And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic Paperback – April 9, 2000
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"Stunning . . . An impressively researched and richly detailed narrative."--Time
"Rivals in power and intensity, and in the brilliance of its reporting and writing, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood."--The Boston Globe
"A monumental history."--The Washington Post Book World
"The most thorough, comprehensive exploration of the AIDS epidemic to date . . . It is fascinating, frightening, and essential reading."--San Francisco Sentinel
"A textbook on how institutions work--or fail to work--in the face of such a threat."--San Francisco Examiner
"A lucid and stunning indictment of public policy toward the vicious disease . . . A valuable work of political history."--Business Week
"Shilts successfully weaves comprehensive investigative reporting and commercial page-turning pacing, political intrigue, and personal tragedy into a landmark book . . . Its importance cannot be overstated."--Publishers Weekly
"A popular history of the early years of the AIDS crisis, the book conveys in detail the political complexities--and many different human dimensions--of the story. Reading Shilts, you wonder who will die next. You worry whether this terrible disease can ever be controlled. And you begin to feel anger at what Shilts portrays as the federal government's dithering . . . Shilts has produced the best--and what will likely be the most controversial--book yet on AIDS. Though many of the details in the book are familiar to veteran reporters, Shilts does not shy away from naming names and casting blame. He writes with passionate conviction, which is one of the book's strengths--and also, of course, a sound reason for some skepticism."--Jim Miller, Newsweek
"Shilts, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle who has covered AIDS full-time since 1983, takes us almost day by day through the first five years of the unfolding epidemic and the responses--confusion and fear, denial and lindifference, courage and determination. It is at once a history and a passionate indictment."--H. Jack Geiger, The New York Times Book Review
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Flash forward a few years to now. I was home and wanted to watch TV, as I looked through the free streaming movies feature of Amazon Prime (which is awesome and totally worth it) and I came across a movie called "And the Band Played On." I vaguely remember discussing my love of epidemiology and someone had recommend I watch this movie. I guess I never looked it up then and it vaguely sounded familiar, sure enough it was THAT movie. So I began the movie and you could tell it was filmed in the 90s, which didn't make me think I would really love it. However, from the first scene I was hooked! I only watched the movie, completely paying attention. I rarely watch TV or movies and pay 100% attention, just kind of have it in the background and be doing other things around the house or making things. This movie was SO good that I was almost late for an appointment because I completely lost track of time.
After, I saw that movie I was completely enthralled with learning more about HIV and how we discovered it. I came and got this book and it has yet to disappoint. It is a thick book with small print, but the writing style is easy to read and interesting; unlike some books that bore you to death for the whole 500 pages.
I would recommend this book to anyone in the medical field, science field, or just likes this kind of stuff. It is great.
He didn't overlook the blame here and there to focus on one or two agents. He let it all out and because of that we got to see the many little things that all came together to give us the AIDS Epidemic. It's seems to be worth more because of that.
It's not heavy handed. Instead he sets out all the pieces and lets us view it as a whole, without supplementing the blame to only the popular places and institutions.
It's the best thing to read if you want all the social and governmental and medical reasons of this plague.
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.