How to Survive a Plague
The Wellcome Trust Book Prize
Green Carnation Prize
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
How to Survive a Plague is epoch-making: the whole social and scientific history of AIDS, brilliantly told. Informative, entertaining, suspenseful, moving, and personal.
As one generation grows up with the misconception that AIDS is nothing more than a manageable illness, another grows old with the fear that the epidemic's early days will disappear into the fog of history. How to Survive a Plague is the book for both generations. France has pulled off the seemingly impossible here, invoking the terror and confusion of those dark times while simultaneously providing a clear-eyed timeline of the epidemic's emergence and the disparate, often dissonant forces that emerged to fight it.
Heroic and heartbreaking and magnificent history throughout, How to Survive a Plague is one of the great tales of our time: the story of incredibly brave and determined men and women who defied government, the pharmaceutical industry, vicious homophobia, and the death sentence of AIDS to overwhelm an awful scourge.
This is a masterpiece of intimate storytelling with moral purpose, a contemplation not so only of an epidemic of illness but also of an epidemic of resilience. It's a book about courage and kindness and anger and joy, written with fierce, passionate intensity and utter conviction.