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Publisher's Summary

By the time Rock Hudson's death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously?
In answering these questions, Shilts weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments. Shilts shows that the epidemic spread wildly because the federal government put budget ahead of the nation's welfare; health authorities placed political expediency before the public health; and scientists were often more concerned with international prestige than saving lives.
Against this backdrop, Shilts tells the heroic stories of individuals in science and politics, public health and the gay community, who struggled to alert the nation to the enormity of the danger it faced. And the Band Played On is both a tribute to these heroic people and a stinging indictment of the institutions that failed the nation so badly.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Randy Shilts' book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Larry Kramer about the life and work of Randy Shilts – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.
©1987 Randy Shilts (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"The most thorough, comprehensive exploration of the AIDS epidemic to date.... It is fascinating, frightening, and essential reading." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"And the Band Played On is about the kind of people we have been for the past seven years. That is its terror, and its strength." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A heroic work of journalism." (The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jan Johnson on 03-19-13

The subtitle says it all!

If you could sum up And the Band Played On in three words, what would they be?

Shocking, well-told story

What was one of the most memorable moments of And the Band Played On?

The constant conflicts between truth and politics (and money) are just unbelievable--what people did to "protect" their interests while scores of people died is unthinkable, yet it happened.

Which scene was your favorite?

It's all my favorite.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was constantly astounded by the infighting of the various factions that put their own interests in front of public health--and that at times the public's health was completely ignored. The very fact that the blood banks denied there could possibly be a threat was the ultimate triumph of "looking good" over public health and common sense.

Any additional comments?

I tried to read this book many years ago and never made it through even the first few chapters. Listening to it instead made it so much more accessible. Unputdownable!

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Lisa on 06-30-14

I, too, had forgotten

This book is meticulously researched by a reporter who followed the entire story from beginning to end. And he pulls no punches - there is plenty of blame to go around. Politicians, gay leadership, scientists, journalists, business people, they all contributed to the crisis that was AIDS in the 1980s.

Shilts unravels the story piece by piece. What keeps you listening is the "And what happened next?" pacing. He brings to life the heroes and humans. It's truly a masterpiece and I thank Audible for producing this work. Without Audible the Audible Modern Vanguard publishing house, this work would not exist in this format.

Rarely has an 80 hour book so completely captured me. I swallowed this book in large chunks over a couple of weeks. I'm in the process of re-listening at a slower pace. If you are old enough to remember the Reagan administration, I believe this book will capture you as well.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Dr Christine Brown on 07-23-11

Comprehensive and interesting

Good social history using real life stories as a narrative structure. I was interested in the epidemiology of the disease as it emerged but also learned alot about gay rights in 1980s USA. Astonished at how late blood transfusion was recognised as transmitting virus, found this shocking and a lessen to UK on verge of privatising blood banks. The narrator is fine, no silly voices or over-acting. Highly recomended.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jim on 06-17-14

A real time capsule

Shilts offers a first hand report of AIDS hitting the newly liberated gay communities of San Francisco and New York at the start of the 80s and goes on to provide a masterpiece of journalism encompassing the reaction of community leaders, the community itself, scientists, politicians, journalists and the US healthcare industry in the shape of hospitals and blood banks. It works as a tragedy, an epidemiological who-done-it, history and drama. Most of the players don't come out of it with unblemished reputations, Ronald Reagan, the blood banks and Dr Robert Gallo being disreputable stand-outs amongst stiff competition. It's gripping, infuriating and touching in equal measure and a great listen but you'll need to be ready to listen to a lot of material about fisting, rimming and the extremely lively bath-house scene. Not my bag particularly but for all sorts of reasons it's entirely appropriate that the book deals with them frankly.

I had some personal questions about the way Shilts flips from reporting verifiable facts to offering us the thoughts of some of the protagonists which I'm struggling to see how he'd know. I was also occasionally irked by the narrator's very dramatic style which seemed to be trying offer Shilts' reporting an additional emotional umph that it didn't really require. These are all small things though. It's no plot spoiler to say (because it doesn't appear in the book) that Shilts opted not to be tested for AIDS until the book was complete in order to avoid biasing his reporting. He was diagnosed shortly after its completion and died in 1994. So this is a real monument to his talent.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rachel on 08-29-16

Should be mandatory reading for all

What did you like most about And the Band Played On?

I've listened to this book probably six or seven times now. It's a unique document of both the mood of the "before AIDS" time, and the early failures by political leaders (on many fronts) that let the virus turn from a terrifying tragedy into an epidemic in supposedly the most advanced country of the 20th Century. But more interesting is the documenting of the amazing work done by doctors, health workers and the people who became community organisers in trying to figure out what this disease was, and how to stem it's spread. From the comfort of the 21st century, it's easy to forget that for the first two decades it was a terrifying and mysterious death sentence, and one that often bought with it banishment from society. I honestly believe this book belongs in the "Classics" section of literature. It might make uncomfortable reading, but we need to remember the dark times of history, and in the words of those who lived those dark times.

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