EPIDEMIC OF COURAGE: Facing AIDS in America by Lon G. Nungesser


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A series of interviews with AIDS victims by one, probing into the personal toll taken by the disease from an emotional, spiritual, and human aspect. The book is broken down into two parts: conservations with seven victims of AIDS and conservations with several family members of victims (""family"" being used herein the broadest sense). What this book is about, essentially, is adaptation. Here are vital people, Nungesser says, transported suddenly and brutally into a situation wherein life itself is indeterminate. Yet they learn to cope with the pain and the alteration of lifestyle required, nay forced upon them, and they do so, these interviews suggest, without losing their senses of humor or perspective. But there are many problems with this book, not the least of which is that the author is not a born interviewer. There is little variety in questions from person to person; some of the questions seem too obvious (""What do you consider to be risky sex?""); some pointless in repetition (""Without using the term AIDS, what is AIDS?""); some overly solicitous (""Did you ever feel like you were singled out for misfortune?"") Beyond these quibbles, there is an annoying tendency toward the symbolic in respondents' answers (""I think that AIDS is the gay community's way of being recognized""). And there are contradictory opinions that render the purpose of the book questionable. One of the most crucial issues in AIDS, for instance, the role of organized medicine, runs up against opinions as diverse as: ""They don't know what to do,"" and ""They were excellent."" Some heat, little light, on a dark subject.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's