And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic is a nonfiction book written by San Francisco Chronicle journalist Randy Shilts, published in 1987. It chronicles the discovery and spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) with a special emphasis on government indifference and political infighting—specifically in the United States—to what was initially perceived as a gay disease. Shilts' premise is that while AIDS is caused by a biological agent, incompetence and apathy toward those who were initially affected by AIDS allowed the spread of the disease to become much worse; AIDS was allowed to happen. The book is an extensive work of investigative journalism, written in the form of an encompassing time line; the events that shaped the epidemic are presented as sequential matter-of-fact summaries. Shilts describes the impact and the politics involved in battling the disease on particular individuals in the gay, medical, and political communities. The book begins its discussion in the late 1970s with the then-first confirmed case of AIDS, that of Grethe Rask, a Danish doctor working in Africa. It ends with the announcement by actor Rock Hudson in 1985 that he was dying of AIDS, when international attention on the disease exploded. And the Band Played On was critically acclaimed and became a best-seller. It made Shilts both a star and a pariah for his coverage of the disease and the bitter politics in the gay community. Judith Eannarino of the Library Journal called it "one of the most important books of the year", upon its release. Shilts described his motivation to undertake the writing of the book in an interview after its release, saying, "Any good reporter could have done this story, but I think the reason I did it, and no one else did, is because I am gay. It was happening to people I cared about and loved." The book was adapted into an HBO docudrama of the same name in 1993. Shilts was tested for HIV while he was writing the book; he died of complications from AIDS in 1994.