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Hardcover And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic Book

ISBN: 0312009941

ISBN13: 9780312009946

And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic

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Book Overview

By the time Rock Hudson's death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously? In answering these questions, Shilts weaves weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story,...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Phenomenal reporting and journalism

10/10. This was a work of phenomenal reporting and journalism work. With today's climate of politicizing C-19, the parallels to the early treatment of AIDS in the US as a political issue rather than a disease is both poignant and deeply upsetting. I cried every few chapters and absolutely couldn't put it down.

important, profound piece of journalism...

I read this book in 1991 after caring for a brother who died from AIDS. When he was alive and we were together we didn't know a thing about this virus except what it was doing to our lives. About five years after his time was up a friend gave me a copy of The Band Played On. It changed my life forever. This book might be the most important, profound and historical piece of journalism written in our time. This book should be required reading for future generations. Tracing the onslaught of the virus from patient zero to Rock Hudson. Randy Shilts leaves no one unscathed in our failed immediate response to the greatest health risk of our lifetime. There's blame and accountability for everyone politicians, gay community, doctors, society but this book is not about blame and pointing fingers. It is ultimately about a society facing it's ugly little secrets and coming to grips about what seperates us is maybe not as important as what unites us. If and when we ever reach the top of the mountain and can look down at what this virus has wrought on us and we can confidently say 'never again', each man and woman will have to look at their own soul's and search inside of themselves for the answer to the following question. Did I do enough during the greatest health plague of our times to make a difference? Randy Shilts certainly has by writing the most detailed, historical look at the early days of the AIDS crisis. By reading this book I was inspired to do my share. God bless us.

The Best Book I Read in 2005

And the Band Played On is an act of phenomenal research and writing, and a very frightening book on many levels because of the political wrangling, political bumbling, and political disregard for a medical crisis which cost the lives of so many, the scientific in-fighting which slowed medical break throughs and sacrificed lives, and the insanity of national agencies which were supposed to be saving lives, but which in this case knowingly risked the lives of many either because they didn't want to do the work, didn't want to spend the money, or didn't want to anger certain political groups. Gay men were deemed to be utterly dispensable by so many. It's the sign of a good book when it brings out strong emotions. This book provoked in me anger, rage, confusion, compassion, sadness, and tears. I wish I could thank all those, like Don Francis, Dr. Michael Gottlieb, Dr. Selma Dritz, Marc Conant, Dr. Dale Lawrence, Paul Volberding, and Dr. Arye Rubenstein, who tried so hard, against such overwhelming odds, to save lives quickly. I would also chastise President Ronald Reagan and Merve Silverman and give Margaret Heckler and Bob Gallo a piece of my mind -- the skunks! I am thankful that there are politicians like Orrin Hatch and people behind the scenes like Bill Kraus and Cleve Jones. Though he was woefully slow in responding I'm grateful for the response of C. Everett Koop and that once having made his stand he never wavered and took it to the media wherever he could. Randy Shilts did an excellent job of showing the culture in the United States and France and the politics in the medical and scientific communities and the political posture and arena during the 1980s. He also humanized the crisis by following many of the patients from onset of medical problems to death (Enno Poersch, Gary Walsh, Frances Borchelt, Bill Kraus, and Gaetan Dugas) and by following the doctors and scientists in their fight to discover the properties of this terrible disease and conquer it. It was enlightening and helpful to have the book structured as a time line. The amount and variety of research done for this book is astounding, requiring Shilts to conduct hundreds of interviews and read millions of pages of articles and medical material. In reading this book, my education has been enhanced and my life is more full and forever changed. It is a great tragedy that AIDS killed Randy Shilts as it had killed so many other innocents, and that as I write this there is still no cure for AIDS. As far as I can tell, it is again being largely ignored by governments and the medical community. Where will the next Randy Shilts, Bill Kraus, and Dr. Gottlieb and the other saviors come from--and will they come soon enough?

This Book Encouraged me to Ride My Bike 350 Miles

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.

"A horribly cruel and insidious virus"

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. But there were also the heroes -- the physicians who devoted their days and nights to treating their patients, gay men like Larry Kramer who refused to let the gay community sweep the problem under the rug, Rock Hudson, whose up-front candor and admission of his illness shocked the American public and helped to bring AIDS out of the closet once and for all, and C. Everett Koop, Reagan's Surgeon General, who refused to play politics and demonstrated the leadership his boss lacked in his common-sense and compassionate approach to meeting the crisis, to the horror of his right-wing constituency. Shilts wrote his story with such compelling urgency that it wraps the reader up like a whodunit you don't want to put down. One shares his disgust at the doctors who cared more about their own self-promotion than about their patients; the right-wing politicians who treated the victims of a devastating and deadly disease as if they were sinners who had earned the wrath of God; the gay men who didn't care how many people they infected as long as they could enjoy the promiscuous atmosphere of the bath houses, and most incredibly, the for-profit blood banks, which refused to admit their product was carrying a deadly virus and fought against blood testing for three years while the number of people who died from transfusions of infect

"A horribly cruel and insidious virus"

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. But there were also the heroes -- the physicians who devoted their days and nights to treating their patients, gay men like Larry Kramer who refused to let the gay community sweep the problem under the rug, Rock Hudson, whose up-front candor and admission of his illness shocked the American public and helped to bring AIDS out of the closet once and for all, and C. Everett Koop, Reagan's Surgeon General, who refused to play politics and demonstrated the leadership his boss lacked in his common-sense and compassionate approach to meeting the crisis, to the horror of his right-wing constituency. Shilts wrote his story with such compelling urgency that it wraps the reader up like a whodunit you don't want to put down. One shares his disgust at the doctors who cared more about their own self-promotion than about their patients; the right-wing politicians who treated the victims of a devastating and deadly disease as if they were sinners who had earned the wrath of God; the gay men who didn't care how many people they infected as long as they could enjoy the promiscuous atmosphere of the bath houses, and most incredibly, the for-profit blood banks, which refused to admit their product was carrying a deadly virus and fought against blood testing for three years while the number of people who died from transfusions of infected blood
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