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Forty years in the making, The American People embodies Larry Kramer's vision of his beloved and accursed homeland. As the founder of ACT UP and the author of Faggots and The Normal Heart, Kramer has decisively affected American lives and letters. Here, as only he can, he tells the heartbreaking and heroic story of one nation under a plague, contaminated by greed, hate, and disease yet host to transcendent acts of courage and kindness.
In this magisterial novel's sweeping first volume, which runs up to the 1950s, we meet prehistoric monkeys who spread a peculiar virus, a Native American shaman whose sexual explorations mutate into occult visions, and early English settlers who live as loving same-sex couples only to fall victim to the forces of bigotry. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton revel in unexpected intimacies, and John Wilkes Booth's motives for assassinating Abraham Lincoln are thoroughly revised. In the 20th century, the nightmare of history deepens as a religious sect conspires with eugenicists, McCarthyites, and Ivy Leaguers to exterminate homosexuals, and the AIDS virus begins to spread. Against all this Kramer sets the tender story of a middle-class family outside Washington, DC, trying to get along in the darkest of times.
The American People is a work of ribald satire, prophetic anger, and dazzling imagination. It is an encyclopedic indictment written with outrageous love.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jeffrey on 09-11-15
Black Humor, Sarcasm, Wit, Revisionist
In Frank Oz and Paul Rudnick's 1997 motion picture, frustrated that Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck's characters are gay, Joan Cusak's character rushes out of the bar and grill towards the end of the movie and yells, "Is everybody gay?!!"
Well, Mr. Kramer's impossibly long and drawn out history of the underlying condition (AIDS) asks the same question. Just how many key personages throughout US History especially actually were gay and conventional history tomes have chosen to turn a blind eye? I have always thought that most historical accounts of whatever throughout any time in history are not as truthful as they want you to think and hide or lie about the real truths of the human condition and especially lie about the real facts of the lives of the persons they want to uphold as historical icons and hyper-moral beings.
This tome is overly long. I had to skip large parts, lost in his apparently fictional account of persons that i have no idea why he wrote about them. There are hours and hours of that sort of rant. Kramer is angry, but he always has been angry and has usually had good reason. I think he had good reason here, but kind of got carried away; but that's Larry and we love him for it.
The narration was very entertaining by the way but in the end I have no idea if half of what Kramer suggests it true, so I'm back to where I started. History books are the "truths" that the author of such books choose for us to know when in fact, the 1/2 of any real history of anything is never really known after the persons who actually are written about have passed on and no longer can tell us what really did happen.
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