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The Invisible People: How the U.S. Has Slept Through the Global AIDS Pandemic, the Greatest Humanitarian Catastrophe of Our Timeby Greg Behrman
Synopses & Reviews
The Invisible People is a revealing and at times shocking look inside the United States's response to one of the greatest catastrophes the world has ever known — the global AIDS crisis. A true story of politics, bureaucracy, disease, internecine warfare, and negligence, it illustrates that while the pandemic constitutes a profound threat to U.S. economic and security interests, at every turn the United States has failed to act in the face of this pernicious menace.
During the past twenty years, more than 65 million people across the globe have become infected with HIV. Already 25 million around the world have died — more than all of the battle deaths in the twentieth century combined. By decade's end there will be an estimated 25 million AIDS orphans. If trends continue, by 2025, 250 million global HIV-AIDS cases are a distinct possibility.
Beyond the ineffable human toll, the pandemic is reshaping the social, economic, and geopolitical dimensions of our world. Eviscerating national economies, creating an entire generation of orphans, and destroying military capacity, the disease is generating pressures that will lead to instability and possibly even state failure and collapse in sub-Saharan Africa. Poised to explode in Eastern Europe, Russia, India, and China, AIDS will have devastating and destabilizing effects of untold proportions that will reverberate throughout the global economy and the international political order.
In this gripping account that draws on more than two hundred interviews with key political insiders, policy makers, and thinkers, Greg Behrman chronicles the red tape, colossal blunders, monumental egos, power plays, and human pain and suffering that comprise America's woeful response to the AIDS crisis. Behrman's unprecedented access takes you inside the halls of power from seminal White House meetings to tumultuous turf battles at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, heated debates in the United Nations, and chilling discoveries at the Centers for Disease Control. Behrman also brings us into the field to meet the people who live in the midst of AIDS devastation in places like a school yard in Namibia, the red-light district in Bombay, and an orphanage in South Africa.
Intensely researched and vividly detailed, The Invisible People is a groundbreaking and compellingly readable account of the appalling destruction caused by more than two decades of American abdication in the face of the defining humanitarian catastrophe of our time.
"Behrman's account, impassioned but fair, describes a moral failure that escalated to tragic dimensions because we allowed its victims to remain invisible for too long." Publishers Weekly
"At once white paper and polemical study of demographic and epidemiological trends — and a hard glimpse of government's role in world healthcare." Kirkus Reviews
"In The Invisible People, Greg Behrman tells a tremendously important story exceedingly well. He reminds us how long the AIDS pandemic has been spreading and how lethal it has become for tens of millions of people around the globe. The book chronicles persistent failures to respond to the crisis and issues a powerful call to action." George Rupp, President, International Rescue Committee, and former President, Columbia University
"Greg Behrman's brilliant account of the U.S. response — or lack of it — to the AIDS pandemic has all the intrigue, suspense, and profound melancholy of a le Carré novel. Mr. Behrman's story, however, is fact, not fiction, and therein lies the tragedy. There are heroes aplenty in Mr. Behrman's book — tireless advocates for health, dignity, and human rights — and they are its inspiration. I can't imagine a more important book to read at this point in time. If ever there was a wake-up call, this is it." Robert Bilheimer, Oscar-nominated director and producer of A Closer Walk
"Greg Behrman has solved a mystery at the center of the worldwide AIDS epidemic: as tens of millions have died, why have rich and powerful countries responded so feebly? His answer is profoundly disturbing and provocative, and gripping reading. Written with passion and skill, The Invisible People reveals that when it comes to AIDS, all politics is global. This is not simply a story of victims and villains, but of quixotic heroes, and of the mortal drama at the intersection of science, politics, money, and foreign policy. Behrman shows that the humanitarian crisis of AIDS is also 'one of the deadliest policy failures in the history of the U.S. government.' It will haunt us for generations." Philip Bennett, Assistant Managing Editor/Foreign News, The Washington Post
"Save this book to explain to our survivors how we failed to act." Theodore C. Sorensen
"Greg Behrman's The Invisible People is what reporting on global AIDS has been missing: a detailed, patient, and balanced assessment of how a complete tragedy unfolded more or less in public view. Fifty years from now, when the world wonders how our modern society let 100 million people die of a disease for which treatment was just hours away by plane, Behrman's book will help provide the answer. His vivid prose makes a terrible tragedy more comprehensible — and more awful. This is a great and important book." Joshua Cooper Ramo, former Senior Editor, World Section, Time
A mind-boggling true story of politics, bureaucracy, disease, internecine warfare, and shocking negligence, this is the first book to take on the irresponsible U.S. response to the global AIDS crisis.
About the Author
Greg Behrman is the coordinator for the Council on Foreign Relations Roundtable on Improving U.S. Global AIDS Policy. He graduated from Princeton and received his M.Phil. in International Relations from Oxford University. He is a member of the Brookings Council and the Explorers Club. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
A Feeble Beginning (1983-1990)
One: A Contentious Start, Buck Passing
Two: The Prism of the U.S. Experience, Absence of Leadership
Three: A Maverick Goes to Geneva, Turf Wars
Four: Voices in the Wilderness, Race and Space
Five: No Advocacy from Above, No Groundswell from Below
Six: The Clinton Enigma, Bunker and Hunker Down
An Awakening of Sorts (1996-1999)
Seven: Drugs Change the Landscape, A Mission Crystallizes
Eight: The Clash, A Forum
Nine: Evidence-Based Advocacy, Start the Press
Opportunities Squandered (1998-2000)
Ten: Continental Abdication, The Ultimate Crutch
Eleven: A Failure to Recalibrate, Turf and Neglect
Twelve: A Foiled Plan, "Too Little, Too Late"
A Great Awakening? (2001-2003)
Thirteen: A Bleak Outlook, Finally — A Vehicle
Fourteen: Righting the Response, Getting Religion
Fifteen: Behind Closed Doors, Coalescence
A Note on Sources
What Our Readers Are Saying
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