VICTORY DEFERRED by John-Manuel Andriote


How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America
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A rousing and readable history, mammoth in scope yet minute in detail.

Through countless interviews with what appears to be everyone remotely connected to the AIDS crisis from the 1970s until yesterday, Washington-based journalist Andriote captures the overwhelming grief and boundless love encountered within the gay community during its long fight against the viral terror. Combining journalistic accuracy with ethical critiques of those who have ignored or exploited AIDS, Victory Deferred fearlessly analyzes the darkest moments of the plague, such as the bilking of the crisis by a few "charities'' concerned more with raising funds for administrators than with fighting the disease. The outlook is never entirely bleak, however, as Andriote counterbalances the awesome weight of AIDS with moments of small victories, the times of healing which illustrate that the worst situations often bring out a person's best. A voice of conscience for the gay community, which has often been hesitant to point out the connections between unsafe sex and HIV infection for fear such a call could be deemed antisex, Andriote speaks calmly for a moral ballast that will serve this community well when the AIDS crisis has indeed been weathered. Judicious choices in which stories to tell would at times have created more compelling reading; Andriote provides such an extensive range of material that depth is sometimes lost to the sheer number of narratives. This shortfall also leads to problematic generalizations, momentary conflations of parts of the gay community into rigid identity blocs. An individuals experience is often a troublesome source from which to draw larger conclusions about a diverse group of people. Nonetheless, Andriote relates with simplicity, compassion, and heart an essentially optimistic tale of the gay community's discovery of itself as a force for change beyond the sexual realm.

The most important AIDS chronicle since Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-226-02049-5
Page count: 488pp
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1999