How to Survive A Plague

How to Survive A Plague

The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS

Unknown - 2016
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One of The New York Times "100 Notable Books of 2016"

KOBO "Best of the Year"

From the creator of the seminal documentary of the same name, an Oscar finalist, the definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, and the powerful, heroic stories of the gay activists who refused to die without a fight.


Shortly after David France arrived in New York in 1978, the newspaper articles announcing a new cancer specific to gay men seemed more a jab at his new community than a genuine warning. Just three years later, he was reporting on the first signs of what would become an epidemic.
Intimately reported, suspenseful, devastating, and finally, inspiring, this is the story of the men and women who watched their friends and lovers fall, ignored by public officials, religious leaders, and the nation at large. Confronted with shame and hatred, they chose to fight, starting protests, rallying a diverse community that had just begun to taste liberation in order to demand their right to live. We witness the founding of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the prohibitively expensive (and sometimes toxic) AZT, and the gradual movement toward a lifesaving medical breakthrough. Throughout, France's unparalleled access to this community immerses us in the lives of extraordinary characters, including the closeted Wall Street trader turned activist; the prominent NIH immunologist with a contentious but enduring relationship with ACT UP; the French high school dropout who finds purpose battling pharmaceutical giants in New York; and the South African physician who helped establish the first officially recognized buyers' club at the height of the epidemic.
Expansive yet richly detailed, How to Survive a Plague is an insider's account of a pivotal moment in the history of civil rights.
Publisher: [Toronto, Ontario] : Signal, an imprint of McClelland & Stewart, 2016.
ISBN: 9780771047510
Branch Call Number: 362.1969792 Fra
Characteristics: x, 624 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm

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LenRudner
Mar 01, 2017

France's book is a difficult read. I had some small involvement in the AIDS movement in the early 1990s so was able to situate his narrative within my own experience as a volunteer for the community in Toronto. It's a sobering reminder of the prejudices and phobias that impeded the search for effective treatment for HIV.

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