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The Secret Epidemic: The Story of AIDS and Black America
Synopses & Reviews
As we enter the twenty-first century, AIDS in America has become primarily a black disease. African Americans now constitute 50 percent of all new HIV cases, and AIDS is one of the top causes of death in young black men and women. The story of how this came to pass reaches across half a century, from the Great Migration north to the boom of the postwar era and the subsequent urban decay, the advent of heroin and crack, and the rise of the new South.
In The Secret Epidemic, Jacob Levenson tells this story through the experiences of the people at its center. Mindy Fullilove, one of the first black researchers to investigate the roots of the epidemic, leads us from San Francisco to the early appearance of the disease in Harlem and the South Bronx. Desiree Rushing must reconcile her crack addiction and HIV infection with the fate of her city, family, and the black church. Mario Cooper is a gay son of the black elite who becomes infected, works to mobilize the Congressional Black Caucus and the Clinton White House to respond to the epidemic, and eventually confronts the boundaries of American race politics. And David deShazo is a white social worker thrust into a hidden, rural black world in the heart of the American South, where he struggles to prevent the spreading epidemic and help two infected black sisters survive with the disease.
Interweaving personal stories and national policy, the legacy of discrimination and the battle for civil rights, sexuality and the role of the black church, this is a significant book for our time——a portrait of a devastating epidemic and an examination of our changing understanding of race in America.
"To say that Jacob Levenson's The Secret Epidemic is a must-read is to say that it is a compelling, impassioned, and deeply humane work of writing and that it is an urgent, necessary alarm for anyone who thinks the AIDS epidemic in America has been tamed. Think of this book as the sequel to Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On — the arrival of a major author with a hugely important story to tell." Samuel G. Freedman
"Filled with highly readable prose and personal dialogue, this book has the potential to appeal to even the most casual reader." Publishers Weekly
"It's an ambitious aim for any journalist to tell the larger political story alongside the personalized human one. But to manage it gracefully...is a particular accomplishment for a reporter this young." Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, The New York Times Book Review
Book News Annotation:
Investigative journalist Levenson explores the social and political aspects of the continuing AIDS epidemic among African Americans in the United States by weaving together the stories of AIDS patients, grassroots activists struggling to get the government to address the plague, medical researchers, social workers, politicians. Along the way he visits issues of class and race, the role of the Black church, and the unresponsiveness of government (including black leadership) to the needs of the black poor.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This is an unprecedented investigation — part reportage, part social history — of the AIDS epidemic in the black community.
This is an unprecedented investigation--part reportage, part social history--of the AIDS epidemic in the black community.
About the Author
Jacob Levenson has written about AIDS for Vibe, The Oxford American, and Mother Jones, and he received a grant from the Open Society Institute to work on this book. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and he received a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn.
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