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

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Randy Shilts was a highly acclaimed, pioneering gay American journalist and author He worked as a reporter for both The Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as for San Francisco Bay Area television stations.

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  • Paperback
  • 656 pages
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
  • Randy Shilts
  • English
  • 18 February 2017
  • 9780312241353

10 thoughts on “And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic

  1. says:

    The gay plague got covered only because it finally had struck people who counted, people who were not homosexuals. 1 This is an absolutely astounding piece of investigative journalism Shilts has dug deep into the history of the AIDs crisis from its very early origins in Africa, being passed around by a lack of medical hygiene, to the bath houses of New York and San Francisco He has provided a comprehensive, horrific history of the disease, its victims, and the uncaring government who allowed it to spread out of control.2 Shilts is an AMAZING writer I m interested in the history of diseases, but then I m interested in the history of a lot of things Technology, art, religion, democracy being interested in something is one thing being able to hold my attention for 600 pages of non fiction is quite another.But Shilts did not have a problem His writing style feels almost like you are reading a dark, dramatic novel as he paints a vivid picture of every scene It s so very compelling This simple truth seems obvious and yet it is easy to forget amid a sea of fantasy pageturners reality is so much haunting and terrible than fiction.3 This book exposes the homophobia, overt or otherwise, that allowed AIDs to become a disaster Homophobia is not surprising to me in this often shitty world we live in, and yet I still managed to be shocked at the way medical professionals, government officials, and the media repeatedly failed the gay victims at the centre of this crisis.We have teams around the world whose job it is to quickly isolate and stop infectious diseases before they can become epidemics Shilts uses Legion Fever or Legionnaires disease as an example When there was an outbreak of Legion Fever in 1976, the government poured money into it and the CDC acted quickly to stop its spread However, AIDs was not offered the same treatment.Despite the fact that people were dying from AIDs and it was spreading much quickly, many medical professionals refused to acknowledge it, the media would not talk about gay sex, and some people even outright suggested it was the wrath of god, punishing gay men for immoral behaviour It is heartbreaking how many gay men, as well as others, were allowed to die because of a fear of the word homosexual What must it be like to be diagnosed with a disease and discover that the government refuses to care about finding the cause, or a cure, for it I can t even imagine It is horrific.4 I recommend this book to everyone It s a fast paced, fascinating, and awful read that looks at a very recent area of history If there was ever a perfect argument against bigotry, it is this disastrous way the AIDs epidemic was handled in its wake, and the millions of people who have died because of it.I also recommend checking out the movie The Normal Heart for a visual experience of this history.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube

  2. says:

    This book brought back the early 80s in hallucinatory detail I remember when we first heard about Gay Cancer, and how hard it was to get any decent information I remember when the world got wobbly and my friends were dying and it seemed like nobody cared I was quite certain that, given my penchant for fey boys, I wouldn t be around to see the turn of the century I vividly remember making up file folders for 1989 for my job and thinking that the ones for 1990 would be in someone else s handwriting It was a scary time that was made electric for me by Shilts and Larry Kramer I bought this book the week it came out, and it changed my view of everything Absolutely everything.Reading it again some 20 odd years later brought back the anger and the sadness and that helpless, blistering rage This is the book that made me understand viscerally that me and mine mattered nothing to the government It s also where I learned that the best intentions can get snarled in the weeds that people passionately devoted to an idea will serve that idea beyond all reason, that profit comes before people, and that it always takes a movie star to catch the public s imagination.All the mistakes, all the missteps are herein laid out in letters of fire The Cassandras, dismissed, reviled and hushed at the time, are sadly proven right Reagan is illuminated in the harsh light of retrospect and found wanting A whole generation vanished because the health officials didn t want to talk about anal sex, the blood banks didn t want to admit they should have tested the blood, the gay rights organizations couldn t conceive of closing the baths, the government couldn t fund the scientists, the scientists couldn t let go of their need to be the first, the medical journals couldn t suspend business as usual, the FDA couldn t understand that double blind studies were inappropriate in the face of an epidemic of this magnitude, and on and on and on A monumental comedy of errors that could so easily have been prevented This book should be required reading for anyone entering any sort of health care profession or who might be a health care consumer some day Infuriating, well written, and tragically still timely It could happen again.This book changed my life I wish it hadn t had to.

  3. says:

    AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals Jerry Falwell In this respect our townfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves in other words they were humanists they disbelieved in pestilences A pestilence isn t a thing made to man s measure therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogey of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away But it doesn t always pass away, and from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away Albert Camus, The PlaguePerhaps the most astonishing factor in this book, so than the wasting disease of AIDS, is the totally pervasive sense of callous indifference How the gay men of San Francisco didn t want to close the bathhouses How the blood banks didn t want to institute tests because of expenses How the senators wanted to leave the issue out of mind How the press refused to cover the issue until it spread from the homosexual male community How divided and underfunded the research teams were And the Reagan administration gleefully cut funding to the CDC and NIH and only began to care when one of Reagan s favorite movie actors died And now, some thirty years later, when the cure is at our fingertips, few still remember, after the benefit concerts, that some thirty million are dead, and this is by all standards, a pandemic This book makes you grind your teeth with rage How could so many people have done nothing or lied about it for so long Perhaps now the only criticism although few could have foreseen it at time of publication is the focus on Gaeten Dugas, or Patient Zero He may not have been the singular cause for the spread of the disease, but one of the first group But he still typifies the wanton ignorance and total psychopathy which involves spreading an unknown disease to hundreds of people, often telling his partners after the act, I have gay cancer You ll have it too Murderous What just god would send plagues, sinners or otherwise This is really good I can t take it any .

  4. says:

    If you re seeking a comprehensive history of the AIDS epidemic, look no further Written as a detective story, this must read book covers all aspects of the disease, from history, to journalism, to politics, to people Randy Shilts, in his thorough investigative report, highlights the many blunders along the way, blunders that are unbelievable in retrospect It is not an anti Republican rant, rather it is a very fair assessment of the collective failure of all entities involved Because the individuals initially infected were mostly gay or drug users, the public was extremely apathetic Due to the transmission methods sodomy, IV drugs, etc , AIDS was seen as an embarrassing disease and was ignored by the media and government officials federal AND local, Dems AND Reps, Feinstein, Reagan, and many Gay activists considered calls for safe sex to be homophobic slurs, scientists were uncooperative and only interested in earning the Nobel Prize, and blood banks were only concerned with the bottom line, refusing to admit that their supplies were contaminated The Patient Zero theory, in which, one extremely promiscuous man knowingly spread the disease to MANY men in several regions, is touched upon In addition to the disasters, the author also cites many heroes, including Rock Hudson the first celebrity who went public, making the cause relevant to the general population and C Everett Koop Reagan s surgeon general who published the first realistic and understandable report on the insidious disease, disregarding common pc isms Shilts himself was infected with the virus while writing the book, but he did not want to bias the book by getting tested before he was finished This should be required reading for all while it appears daunting at 600 pages, it is extremely interesting, well researched, and worth the time spent.

  5. says:

    This book took me a long time to read I could only read small bits at a time It was both informative and heartbreaking And it made me think of friends I ve lost But other friends of mine actually lived through this time It was a complete travesty how long it took this country to come to action against AIDS.

  6. says:

    This book is really important, considering 1 We are likely not safe from another random crazy deadly virus that will catch us offguard.2 You have probably underestimated what an asshole Reagan was.3 You might be going to see Milk soon and would like to read of some of what happened after him in SF politics.4 Prop 8 effing passed, proving our society has farther to come than perhaps we realized.Points deducted because apparently the Patient Zero story is a bit hinky Also it s often a lot to keep plodding through it Still worthwhile, especially as a historical document.

  7. says:

    This has to be the most maddening book I ve ever read, and that includes books on the Vietnam and Second World Wars As AIDS arrives in the world in the late 1970s, it strikes Africa first, then the American gay scene Shilts documents the search for the virus in all its muddled, politicized, under funded, disregarded insanity, during which gay men died quickly or slowly, without drugs that did than eased their passing for years, in their homes or in facilities that had no notion of how to care for them than they did, cared for by each other and, slowly, by medical personnel who knew they might be risking their own lives Here in the U.S local, state, and national government issued claims of aggressive pursuit of the disease while doing the opposite Agencies supposedly committed to the discovery and treatment of the new disease fought one another for credit for any advances in treatment and in finding the virus Pharmaceutical companies kept to the years long proving process for drugs which might buy years of life for sufferers, including seeking out pools of subjects who could get placebos, when in the case of this disease the receipt of the placebo was certain death, instead of the possibility of a few years with an experimental drug Doctors, blood banks, and drug companies vied to make money as gays, drug users, and recipients of blood transfusions who got blood while blood banks argued against testing blood for the disease because it was expensive died And the politicians who could have created hospices, units in hospitals, and information programs, did nothing.It s a brilliant book about a heartbreaking time HBO s movie A Normal Heart was written in 1985 by activist Larry Kramer, and you ll recognize some of his characters here this is the story of what went on before, after, and in the rest of the world If you re prone to fits of rage, you might want to warn those around you as you read I lived in NYC during this time, and I had a lot of gay friends I knew they were being ignored I didn t know it was this pervasive, or this completely and utterly inhuman.

  8. says:

    I recall being so incensed at the failure of common decency across every part of the establishment spectrum that I think I can trace much of my continuing skepticism of our political process directly to Randy s work I actually think this book should be required reading at college level for any political science class that is examining the flaws of what our system can become Eisenhower was right in his grave warnings about the danger inherent in the military industrial complex but even so about the transfer of power whether sought or unsought that could come to pass Not only in the military industrial complex but perhaps also in the Health Industrial complex where, as this book so chillingly portrays, the reality is those in power seek to protect that status quo, even if conscious evil intent is absent If you never read this and you want a very real, somewhat raw, but remarkable account of what happened in those times, you would be very hard pressed to find better And yes, for my conservative friends there may be a bit of a liberal perspective However, far importantly it speaks from a human perspective which frankly transcends ideology and as I write this in 2011 seems far too absent from our discussion of costs and deficits and other such fictions The real truth is far too many people are suffering and this country has had a long and proud history of standing up, whatever the cause of human suffering is, to make it better I wait for us, with faith we still can, to come to our collective senses once again.This book was a bright light on injustice where is such a light today

  9. says:

    I think everyone should read this book Seriously Randy Shilts presents the epic tale of the beginning of the AIDs epidemic through the eyes of health officials, scientists, doctors, politicians, patients, and the media It is an incredible story of how America willfully ignored the spread of AIDs until it was too late to stem He uses all the interviews and research that he did as a journalist for the SF Chronicle who covered the epidemic full time for years The book travels all over the world in a careful timeline starting with the very first AIDs patients and ending in 1988.One of the most affecting parts for me was reading about the partisanship, bickering, and politics that overcame good science and public health decisions If feels too similar to the debates we have been having about the environment and global warming.It may sound like a dry read, but it is completely enthralling Equal parts medical detective story and train wreck I missed my busstop while reading it and ended up by the side of a highway in the hinterlands Now that s a recommendation.

  10. says:

    I didn t finish this Reads like bad journalism The story is, of course, tragic, but the various accounts ring false like the stories that actors tell For example, we find On a hunch, Gottlieb twisted some arms to convince pathologists to take a small scraping of the patient s lung tissue through a nonsurgical maneuver OK, so the author isn t a doctor, but 1 pathologists don t do endobronchial biopsies, pulmonologists do, 2.nobody has to twist a pulmonologists arm to do an endobronchial biopsy or for a pathologist to interpret one, 3.I was around when AIDS showed up and we were fascinated by it and were eager to get that material, 4.Since this little sentence has things in it that I know are false, what is the author saying with it is he building a case Many other stories ring false and have doubtless been spun somehow, after all this book has a message and the author is the man with a hammer I am reminded of the oft noticed phenomenon that when you have personal knowledge of a newspaper story, you are startled by its errors for example, if you were the one interviewed , and then realize that the stories that you know nothing about are probably similarly inaccurate The story of AIDS deserves better than this.

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