Very detailed account of the AIDS epidemic. I found it to be a rather fustrating book to endure, not due to the writing style, but more over the lack of response by the many differnt agencies and the US goverment to mobilize against AIDS. The one thing I can say about the book it sticks to the facts rather than opinion. There is no party (GLBT Community, science and goverment) left out of its responsibility for the spread of the epidemic. It is sure to be a great source of debate amoungst all who read.
This audiobook provides an excellent history into the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic. Americans should read/listen to this book for a better understanding of how it all began and how it became such a worldwide epidemic. Although I had a better understanding than most because of my medical background, I still learned a great deal. This was enjoyable and had more of a feel of a novel than a documentary though it unfortunately is non-fiction.
Good book, several stories developing at once, including the work that doctors did in the early years of the crisis, the efforts to close the gay bars in San Francisco, the rivalries of scientists working on a cure, and "Patient Zero", who may or may not have been responsible for the spread of AIDS across the continent. Like someone said before, reads like fiction, but it isn't (although the effect of Gaeton Dugas, patient zero, is highly speculative).
bookaddict reviewed And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic on
Helpful Score: 1
How great is this book? It is one I have read again and again. Really gives the feel of a horrible era in the US, and if you didn't live through it, maybe it won't have the same impact as it does on me. The story of the AIDS crisis: young, healthy people were dying in droves from a brand new, totally unknown illness, and the political implications were complicated and disturbing. Taken from Randy Shilts' newspaper columns of the time (although it does NOT read like journalism, more like fiction although it is not). Really absorbing. Nothing like the lightweight film made with Matthew Modine. No film could capture all the stories and personalities in this book. Highly recommend this.
While so much has happened in the field of HIV/AIDS research since this book was written, And the Band Played On is still the quintessential telling of a hugely important public health issue in the U.S. By telling the personal stories of individuals who played key roles in the unfolding epidemic, Mr. Shilts weaves a compelling and gripping story that is accessible to anyone interested in the history of HIV/AIDS; you dont need to be a medical professional to understand this story.
Extensively researched, this book is the definative work on the disease. Shilts goes back to the earliest days of AIDS to chronicle the the spread of this horrible disease. As Americans, we should feel the shame author Shilts intends as the signs were all pointing to something new, massive and deadly. Yes, hindsight enables perfect perception and categorization of the thousands of variables in play back in the 80's and 90's. But the slow reaction by the gay community, government and medical establishments all played critical roles in allowing AIDS to take hold. Worse yet, when the problem was in full picture, the government's response to the crisis was nothing short of embarrassing.
The story occasionally gets blogged down in details that add little to the book. There are probably 50-100 key players in the book and keeping them straight is not an easy task. The author does take liberties in re-inventing conversations, delivering a narrative flow versus thousands of quotes. If you can get past the fact that these aren't verbatim conversations, you realize it adds to the story while not detracting from the cold facts uncovered by the author.
The next new disease may be right around the corner. This should be required reading for every presidental administration and head of any major medical organization on how not to attack a new medical issue that has the potential to change millions of lives. I remember the Reagan years as good for America economically but book brings out the clear statement to me... at what cost?
I watched the movie years ago but this was just an amazing piece of work by the author. He pulls no punches and is very honest about why the disease spread and was left unchecked. The pure volume of research the author did for this is mind-boggling.