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Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS Paperback – April 1, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Although much of what Farber dredges up is not new, the fact remains that her argument has not been answered to the satisfaction of a lot of people. I would guess that it is not going to be so easy now to sweep this debate under the carpet by naming Farber and Duesberg and others ‘crazies’ and ‘HIV deniers.’ As Farber herself points out, there is too much money and greed now controlling the entire system of our ‘treatment’ for that to be an effective response.”
—Larry kramer, Founder, ACT UP

“It’s an engaging piece of investigative journalism that exposes deep problems with the standards of medical research when it comes to AIDS.... Her argument is that AIDS has become an industry and a certain kind of sloppiness has entered the search for new anti-retroviral drugs.”
—Gal Beckerman, Columbia Journalism Review

About the Author

Celia Farber has been chronicling the shadow story of AIDS science since 1987, which she originally covered for SPIN magazine in a regular column that ran for eight years. She has also written for Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Harper's, among other magazines. This is her first book.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (July 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633015
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Bleau on February 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Science is facing some serious challenges nowadays. We have people who insist that humans walked alongside dinosaurs or that there is no such thing as time dilation, regardless of the scientific canon, we still have catastrophists and UFOlogists and people who insist that the moon landings were a fraud... It's a frustrating thing, sometimes, to waste precious time on people who have corrupted science out of ignorance or for their non-scientific agendas, and one can be tempted to insist on censoring them and locking them out of the hallowed halls of science.

I have examined various challenges to the established scientific currents and found them wanting. I validated a number of calculations regarding relativity, refuted a computation that arrives at a 6,400 year age for the sun, studied the videos of men on the moon: I invested much precious time examining sundry claims. It's clear to me that there are many Corruptors of science, with the AIDS dissidents seemingly among the worst.

Delving into the complicated world of HIV/AIDS, however, I found that I could not refute the better-laid arguments of the dissidents while the orthodoxy repeatedly fails to substantiate its fundamental tenets. Whereas creationists are almost exclusively religious zealots, AIDS dissidents include Nobel laureates and thousands of Ph.D.s, physicians and scientists. When I would read that there is no study that establishes the necessary presence of HIV in patients, that HIV has never been isolated from any one patient, that no study has established the sexual transmissibility of HIV, that the pathology of HIV has never been demonstrated, that the spike in AIDS deaths corresponds to AZT prescription, etc.
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Format: Paperback
Because of its catastrophic impact and the unique time and place it struck, AIDS very quickly became more than a medical story. It took on tremendous political, moral, sexual, religious, intellectual and economic significance as well, and Farber argues that these elements soon came to dominate and distort the medical science. If she's right, pretty much everything we've been told about AIDS--what it is, what causes it, how it spreads, how it may be resisted and cured--is wrong, a collusion of panic, politics and greed. AIDS became a dogma, and anyone who questioned it a heretic. At great cost to her career, Farber has questioned the dogma for 20 years. This book is a fascinating alternate history of AIDS, a chronology of how she and other "heretics" believe it all went wrong. This is not kooky conspiracy theory. Ultimately, it's an Orwellian treatise on intellectual totalitarianism in our time.
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Serious Adverse Events is for the most part a collection of Celia Farber's previous work, with a few updates and some new material. I should say at the outset that, prior to reading this particular collection, I had read much of this material in other publications (Harper's, Spin, etc). But no matter where it first appeared, this is some good stuff---it's that rare piece of science journalism that is a) passionate, b) intelligent and informed, and c) accessible to the lay reader.

It's a safe bet that most folks buying this book will already have at least a passing familiarity with the questions it raises, but if you're new to this subject, it's worth noting that this book addresses (with uncommon insight) questions and doubts surrounding the mainstream account of AIDS, its causes, and its treatments. AIDS skepticism is as old as AIDS science, and Farber has been chronicling AIDS skeptics since nearly the beginning.

Those early skeptics had simple doubts about the epidemiology of AIDS: Even before the 80s were through, it was clear that large numbers of HIV-positive folks simply weren't getting sick. But if the growing numbers of healthy HIV-positives should have been the beginning of the end for the HIV hypothesis, then the discovery of AIDS cases with no HIV should have been the nail in its coffin. But there was no coffin to put the nail in, because, as Farber makes acutely clear in one of the most compelling sections of the book, these damning anomalies were simply defined away. You see, the most common argument for HIV's role in AIDS is the apparently perfect correlation between AIDS and HIV. Critics have long contended that the correlation is an artifact of the disease's definition: HIV is a requirement for a case to be considered AIDS.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, the questions Farber raises are important. Yes, she should not be attacked, ostracized or ignored simply for raising these questions. Yes, the subject matter itself is so inherently polarizing that the consequences of exploring any dimension of the story other than the mainstream version inevitably results in a cataract of vitriol and condescenion - when anyone even bothers to acknowledge the existence of alternate dimensions - so far out of proportion to the reportage in question that an objective observer might easily question the sanity of anyone involved in the debate, on either side. Yes, Farber has an agenda: an undeterred desire to dig up a core truth that may in fact be undiscoverable, ever, or for years. To the apparent detriment of her career, in the face of death threats and accusations of "murdering" those who've made the (evidently suicidal) mistake of taking her journalism seriously, she trudges on, bears up, moves forward. Why? No earthly idea. I only know that the writing on display in this book, as writing, is unusually passionate, articulate, and alive in ways that most writing about any subject is not. And that whatever drives Farber to continue in the face of the abuse and hatred she's endured through the twenty years it took for this book to be written - well, it's not money, it's not fame, and it's certainly not common. Facile comparisons to Orwell aside, Celia Farber is one of our most important contemporary writers because of her rare courage, and her still more rare ability to convey the complexities of an impossible issue in human terms. Whatever biases you might diagnose as flaws in this collection of stories are doubtless present, because she makes no attempt to bury her emotions. She writes, in sum, with both head and heart. Agree or disagree, but to ignore her adds only to your own ignorance.
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