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What to expect

Winner of The Green Carnation Prize for LGBTQ literature

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT non-fiction

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2017

‘This superbly written chronicle will stand as a towering work in its field’ Sunday Times

‘Inspiring, uplifting and necessary reading’ – Steve Silberman author of Neurotribes, Financial Times

How to Survive a Plague by David France is 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.

Weaving together the stories of dozens of individuals, this is an insider’s account of a pivotal moment in our history and one that changed the way that medical science is practised worldwide.

Critics Review

  • This superbly written chronicle will stand as a towering work in its field, the best book on the pretreatment years of the epidemic since Randy Shilts’s And the Band Played On (1987), which it corrects in places. Most of the people to whom it bears witness are not around to read it, but millions are alive today thanks to their efforts, and this moving record will ensure that their legacy does not die with them.

    Sunday Times
  • Important and powerfully written . . . Instead of diluting the emotional force of his narrative, France’s personal perspective on the story amplifies it, particularly because his meticulously chronicled version of events is never clouded by sentimentality or petty score-settling . . . How to Survive a Plague stands on its own as a more richly nuanced telling of a chain of events that forever changed medicine . . . Inspiring, uplifting and necessary reading.

    Financial Times
  • Subtle and searing . . . [France] uses his privileged access to put us in the heart of the action, or more usually, inaction.

    Observer
  • A remarkable book about a remarkable achievement: how an unlikely alliance of US activists, patients, doctors and scientists tamed one of the greatest threats to public health in the past 100 years, saving millions of lives.

    Spectator
  • David France’s remarkable book . . . somehow manages to pack all the emotional power of [his] film with far more granular detail and narrative force. I doubt any book on this subject will be able to match its access to the men and women who lived and died through the trauma and the personal testimony that, at times, feels so real to someone who witnessed it that I had to put this volume down and catch my breath.

    New York Times
  • Flawless. Masterfully written, impeccably researched, and full of feeling for the living and dead heroes of the AIDS movement . . . No better person to write this book, which had to be written, creating a complete and correct record of this terrible story and its heroes.

    Newsday

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