WINNER OF THE 2017 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION
"It's an extraordinary story ... It deserves an extraordinary book. How to Survive a Plague is such a book, a sweeping social history, a bracing act of in-depth journalism, and a searingly honest memoir" Slate
"Epoch-making ... Brilliantly told. Informative, entertaining, suspenseful, moving, and personal."Edmund White
The riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts.
Not since the publication of Randy Shilts's now classic And the Band Played On in 1987 has a book sought to measure the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms.
David France, a chronicler of AIDS from the earliest days, uses his unparalleled access to the community to illuminate the lives of dozens of extraordinary characters, including the closeted Wall Street trader-turned-activist; the high school dropout who found purpose battling pharmaceutical giants in New York; the South African physician who helped establish the first officially recognized buyers' club at the height of the epidemic; and the public relations executive fighting to save his own life for the sake of his young daughter.
We witness the founding of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the use of the prohibitively expensive (and sometimes toxic) early AIDS drug AZT, and the suspenseful - and often heartbreaking - march toward a lifesaving medical breakthrough.
Expansive yet richly detailed, this is an insider's account of a pivotal moment in the history of American civil rights - and one that changed the way that medical science is practiced worldwide.