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

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Macmillan, Apr 9, 2000 - Health & Fitness - 630 pages
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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, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.

Shilts shows that the epidemic spread wildly because the federal government put budget ahead of the nation's welfare; health authorities placed political expediency before the public health; and scientists were often more concerned with international prestige than saving lives. Against this backdrop, Shilts tells the heroic stories of individuals in science and politics, public health and the gay community, who struggled to alert the nation to the enormity of the danger it faced. And the Band Played On is both a tribute to these heroic people and a stinging indictment of the institutions that failed the nation so badly.
Randy Shilts was born in 1951, in Davenport, Iowa. One of the first openly gay journalists hired at a major newspaper, he worked for the San Francisco Chronicle for thirteen years. He died of AIDS in 1994 at his home in the Sonoma County redwoods in California. He was the author of The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic (1987), and Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the U.S. Military (1993). He also wrote extensively for many major newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, and The Advocate.
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 the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.

Shilts shows that the epidemic spread wildly because the federal government put budget ahead of the nation's welfare; health authorities placed political expediency before the public health; and scientists were often more concerned with international prestige than saving lives. Against this backdrop, Shilts tells the heroic stories of individuals in science and politics, public health and the gay community, who struggled to alert the nation to the enormity of the danger it faced. And the Band Played On is both a tribute to these heroic people and a stinging indictment of the institutions that failed the nation so badly.
"A heroic work of journalism on what must rank as one of the foremost catastrophes of modern history."—The New York Times
"A heroic work of journalism on what must rank as one of the foremost catastrophes of modern history."—The New York Times

"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 indifference, 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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And the Band Played On

User Review  - florence - Borders

Randy Shilts has done an amazing job covering the AIDS epidemic. "And the Band Played On" is incredibly well-written and engaging; though a bit long, one never wants to set the book down, even when ... Read full review

Review: And the Band Played On: Politics, People, And the AIDS Epidemic

User Review  - Jesse - Goodreads

A strange book-- exhaustively researched and detailed, yet written in the turgid, melodramatic style of an airport thriller. Possibly TOO detailed, it can frequently be tiring in its attention to the ... Read full review

Contents

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About the author (2000)


Randy Shilts was born in 1951, in Davenport, Iowa. One of the first openly gay journalists hired at a major newspaper, he worked for the San Francisco Chronicle for thirteen years. He died of AIDS in 1994 at his home in the Sonoma County redwoods in California. He was the author of The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic (1987), and Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the U.S. Military (1993). He also wrote extensively for many major newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, and The Advocate. And the Band Played On was made into a docudrama that was broadcast on HBO in 1993.


Bibliographic information