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And the Band Played On: Politics, People,…

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1987)

by Randy Shilts

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1,790423,914 (4.39)56
Recently added byprivate library, KelMunger, Sarah_UK, tpook, tayitude, pepperedmoth
Legacy LibrariesJack Layton, Newton 'Bud' Flounders
  1. 20
    The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS by Helen Epstein (espertus)
    espertus: Two interesting books on the spread of AIDS in two very different locations and times. "And the Band Played On" is about the emergence of AIDS, with a focus on the San Francisco gay community in the 1980s, which the author was a part of, and the (non-)response by the American government. "The Invisible Cure" is about governments' and NGOs' responses to AIDS in African countries in the 1990s and early 2000s, with varying degrees of success based on different levels of understanding of the problem and effectiveness in directing resources.… (more)
  2. 10
    The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (Sandydog1)
    Sandydog1: Another epidemiological thriller, even faster-paced.
  3. 21
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (timspalding)
    timspalding: Some may take offense at the suggestion, but I think don't think World War Z could have been written without And the Band Played On, an oral history of the all-too-real AIDS epidemic. Shilts' is by far the better book, even if it weren't true and important.… (more)

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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
This is a book that I came across in a sales display in a Blackwell bookshop, and as it was only £2, I bought it. Its size meant I was hesitant to pick it up, but once I actually did I was engaged from the first page on. Originally published in 1987, it charts the response to AIDS in the United States in the first half of 1980s, so it makes for a rather rage-inducing as well as depressing reading matter of wilful ignorance, inaction, callousness and in-fighting. On a more personal level, it certainly took me back to being a teenager in the mid-to-late-1990s and trying to read everything my smallish local library had about AIDS. ( )
  mari_reads | Nov 2, 2014 |
In the early 1980s, a new disease quickly began appearing in San Francisco and New York. The purple blotches of Kaposi's sarcoma and mysterious bouts of pneumocystis carinii seemed to only affect a very small minority of the public -- the gay community. But unlike other mysterious outbreaks, such as with Legionnaires' disease, the government and media response to the new disease was almost non-existent. Randy Shilts' "And the Band Played On" chronicles the early days of the AIDS epidemic, how many groups (the Regan administration, the media, the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, gay activists and organizations) responded to the situation. Infighting, political red tape, and silence -- most surprisingly from within both the medical and gay communities -- affected and undermined the research into discovering the disease. It made me angry reading this book, learning how lax the media was in paying any attention to the outbreak, reading how egos within the CDC and NIH (not to mention the lack of immediacy from the government) hampered efforts to locate the cause for the rash of odd diseases. The reaction of most in the gay community was in most cases, to ignore it. I could understand the anger in Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart", as he's one of the main players in the book.

The book is very sobering and sad and alternately uplifting, realizing that not everyone was apathetic. Many of the doctors and researchers involved risked their livelihoods and reputations, seeing AIDS not as a gay disease but as a human disease. Many gay groups appeared to help get the word out about AIDS, holding candlelight vigils for loved ones, refusing to remain silent in the face of opposition.

"And the Band Played On" provides an in-depth and thorough look at the first years of the AIDS epidemic, and it's one of the best books I've read in quite some time. I most definitely recommend it. ( )
  ocgreg34 | Jul 30, 2014 |
This is nothing less than a compulsively readable tour-de-force in modern medical journalism. It's the history of a disease, a people, and an era all in one.

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. ( )
1 vote willoughby | Jun 30, 2014 |
A scathing expose on the inaction of the establishment (medical and governmental) as hundreds then thousands died in the early to mid-1980s. Shilts' book explores of the social and political forces at work during the early years of the AIDS pandemic. ( )
  gkonopas | Apr 19, 2013 |
I am furious with the way the Reagan administration FAILED to handle a public health crisis. I hope we, as a nation, have learned our lesson about ignoring problems simply because we have the belief that it only effects "others". AIDS is a human issue. ( )
  melissarochelle | Apr 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Although I’ve not read the book, I do have this on VHS. I remember watching the movie and I though it didn’t get enough attention, because people’s fears and attitudes really haven’t changed much, even after all these decades.

In 1986, my Mom was reluctant to tell people that she had cancer because some uninformed people actually thought they could catch cancer from someone else. The same fears abound with Aids.
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I came here today with the hope that this administration would do everything possible, make every resource available -- there is no reason this disease cannot be conquered. We do not need infighting. This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. This is not a gay issue. This is a human issue. And I do not intend to be defeated by it. I came here today in the hope that my epitaph would not read that I died of red tape.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312241356, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:29 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

An examination of the AIDS crisis critiques the federal government for its inaction, health authorities for their greed, and scientists for their desire for prestige in the face of the AIDS pandemic, in a twentieth anniversary edition of the acclaimed expose.… (more)

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