Year 100

1987: And the Band Played On

Author/Editor: Randy Shilts

Find it in Collins Library!

This book is featured on the Library of Congress web site as one of the books that shaped America:

And the Band Played On is the story of how the AIDS epidemic spread and how the government’s initial indifference to the disease led to a new awareness of the urgency of devoting government resources to fighting the virus. Shilts’s investigation has been compared to other works that led to increased efforts toward public safety, such as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.”

The meticulous research and commitment of the author to document the AIDS epidemic is a moving chronicle.  In the acknowledgements, the author writes:

“the people for whom I will always bear special reverence are those who were suffering from AIDS and who gave some of their last hours for interviews, sometimes while they were on their deathbeds laboring for breath.  When I’d ask why they’d take the time for this, most hoped that something they said would save someone else from suffering.  If there is an act that better defines heroism, I have not seen it.”

He goes on to write in the Preface,

“Because of their efforts, the story of politics, people, and the AIDS epidemic is, ultimately, a tale of courage as well as cowardice, compassion as well as bigotry, inspiration as well as venality, and redemptions as well as despair.”

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