There is no question that AIDS has been, and continues to be, one of the most destructive diseases of the 20th century, taking thousands of lives, devastating communities, and exposing prejudice and bigotry. But AIDS has also been a disease of transformation - it has fuelled the American national gay civil rights movement, altered medical research and federal drug testing, shaken up both federal and local politics, and inspired a vast cultural outpouring. This account of the epidemic is the history of both the destruction and transformation wrought by AIDS. John-Manuel Andriote chronicles the impact of the disease from the coming-out revelry of the 1970s to the post-AIDS gay community of the 1990s, showing how it has changed both individual lives and national organizations. He tells the story of how a health crisis pushed a disjointed jumble of local activists to become a nationally visible and politically powerful civil rights movement, a full-fledged minority group challenging the authority of some of the nation's most powerful institutions.
Based on hundreds of interviews with those at the forefront of the medical, political, and cultural responses to the disease, the text blends personal narratives with institutional histories and organizational politics to show how AIDS forced gay men from their closets and ghettos into the hallways of power to lobby and into the streets to protest.
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(235mm x 160mm x 32mm)
University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A rousing and readable history, mammoth in scope yet minute in detail. Through countless interviews with what appears to be everyone remotely connected to the AIDS crisis from the 1970s until yesterday, Washington-based journalist Andriote captures the overwhelming grief and boundless love encountered within the gay community during its long fight against the viral terror. Combining journalistic accuracy with ethical critiques of those who have ignored or exploited AIDS, Victory Deferred fearlessly analyzes the darkest moments of the plague, such as the bilking of the crisis by a few "charities" concerned more with raising funds for administrators than with fighting the disease. The outlook is never entirely bleak, however, as Andriote counterbalances the awesome weight of AIDS with moments of small victories, the times of healing which illustrate that the worst situations often bring out a person's best. A voice of conscience for the gay community, which has often been hesitant to point out the connections between unsafe sex and HIV infection for fear such a call could be deemed antisex, Andriote speaks calmly for a moral ballast that will serve this community well when the AIDS crisis has indeed been weathered. Judicious choices in which stories to tell would at times have created more compelling reading; Andriote provides such an extensive range of material that depth is sometimes lost to the sheer number of narratives. This shortfall also leads to problematic generalizations, momentary conflations of parts of the gay community into rigid identity blocs. An individual's experience is often a troublesome source from which to draw larger conclusions about a diverse group of people. Nonetheless, Andriote relates with simplicity, compassion, and heart an essentially optimistic tale of the gay community's discovery of itself as a force for change beyond the sexual realm. The most important AIDS chronicle since Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On. (Kirkus Reviews)
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