Released on 01 December 2016.

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How to Survive a Plague

The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS

4.4 based on 719 ratings & 169 reviews on Goodreads.com

2017 Winner

Green Carnation Prize

2017 Winner

Baillie Gifford Prize

2017 Long-listed

The Wellcome Trust Book Prize

Synopsis

Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction

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.

In the media

David France's riveting and comprehensive How to Survive a Plague purports, accurately, to be the definitive account of the successful struggle to halt the AIDS epidemic. Its 640 pages are packed with scientific, medical and social history, offering the reader a simultaneously intimate and sweeping understanding of the crisis from its earliest onset . . . and beyond to the era in which survivor's guilt troubled many of the movement's former activists . . . In rich detail and with a fine texture that benefits from his insider position, France charts the disease's spread as well as the heroic and flawed human efforts to contain it. Grippingly narrative and action-packed . . . A remarkably written and highly relevant record of what angry, invested citizens can come together to achieve, and a moving and instructive testament to one community's refusal — in the face of ignorance, hatred and death — to be silenced or to give up.
Chicago Tribune
The men and women in the AIDS advocacy movement saved lives and made history. France has honored them by telling their stories . . . How to Survive a Plague is the definitive book on AIDS activism, a long-overdue update on Randy Shilts’ 1987 And the Band Played On . . . It’s not easy to balance solid journalism with intimate understanding of a subject, and even harder to write eloquently about a disease that’s killing your friends and loved ones. France pulls it off, in his own words (his description of finding a college roommate’s panel in the AIDS Memorial Quilt is heartbreaking) and in letting his articulate sources speak for themselves.
San Francisco Chronicle
An epochal book . . . the story this book raises to the level of poet Siegfried Sassoon’s First World War and writer Primo Levi’s Holocaust is the access and influence a group of privileged white men demanded and got in the medical and pharmaceutical corridors of power… The reporting and research that made this book are exquisite, the scenes and people painted test the limits of what’s bearable . . . As much a monument as any AIDS memorial.
Toronto Star