And The Band Played On
I finished reading And the Band Played On on the plane back from Baltimore yesterday. Truly an amazing, powerful book—part medical mystery, part political thriller, part history of the evolution of the gay community—it was difficult to put down. I highly recommend the paperback version, since you'll want to carry this 672-page monster with you wherever you might find a few minutes to read.
There were many revelations in the book (at least for me); it was interesting to learn, for example, that while San Francisco was considered the "AIDS capital," New York City had three times as many cases. San Francisco was not AIDS central because everyone was infected, as most Americans seemed to think, but rather because it was the only city that was implementing any kind of coordinated AIDS policy.
I also didn't realize until I checked the copyright date, pages before finishing the book, that it was published in 1987. I'd heard of the book before, but I hadn't realized that it had been out for so long. That made it even more remarkable that so much of the information in the book was news to me; apparently, the biggest revelation of all was how ill-informed about the unfolding of the AIDS epidemic I'd been.
There were many read-out-loud-to-Al-in-amazement moments, but it's hard to think of them all now. As I said to Al when I finished the book, I can't imagine starting the book again at the beginning, trying to go back to when I didn't know what I know now. For me, this book has become the dividing line between my Before and my After.