Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And The Band Played On

One of my all time favourite movies was produced and shown by HBO in 1993 and starred Matthew Modine, Alan Alda and Saul Rubinek to name just a few. It was based on the book of the same name, And The Band Played On, which had been written and published by Randy Shilts in 1987. Unfortunately, he was found to be HIV positive in March 1987 and died from AIDS in early 1994. This book is an extremely carefully detailed account of the first five years of the AIDS epidemic and all of its major, and minor, players and their struggle to be heard and taken seriously by the government, press and public at large. At the book's initial publication, its author was widely regarded as America's most expert journalist on the AIDS epidemic primarily due to the fact that he had been the only reporter in the world to have worked full-time covering AIDS as the story developed having joined the San Francisco Chronicle in 1982. Thanks to the enlightenment of his employer, he was able to devote himself almost exclusively to reporting on AIDS and it is this reporting that ended up providing the core of his book. The book itself is utterly riveting and is so much more than simply a history of the early years of AIDS. It is beyond majestic. It's about politics, people, and institutions and their responses of fear, denial and indifference, courage and determination. It is also easily my favourite book of all time. It is also a book that I have just recently finished after having finally located a copy after years and years and some more years of searching for it! Not only did I actually manage to find a used copy in mint condition, the entire cost of the book, plus its shipping and handling from the UK to Canada, cost me less than $8.00 Canadian after calculating the currency exchange. Is that not utterly insane? The second I had located this book, I transferred the required funds from my PayPal account along with all my particulars. Within a week's time, the book had arrived in my mailbox all safe and sound!