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May 01

Book Recommendation: How to Survive a Plague

Posted on May 1, 2020 at 10:52 AM by Bobbie Clark

Book Recommendation:  

How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS
 by David France (2016) 

This is not a new book; however, for those who are searching for a readable and informative book about both the science and social response to a pandemic, you can find exactly that here.

Touted as the definitive history of the early years of the AIDS epidemic, 
How to Survive a Plague provides readers with in depth information about the processes involved in developing a reliable test for HIV – it took years – and the early search for effective means of treatment. The book also discusses how the epidemic changed the way that drugs are developed, tested, and approved and how the response to the disease changed over time. 

The book includes glimpses into the lives of people living with AIDS in the 1980s and the early activists responsible for
 remarkable acts of civil disobedience and protest that pushed both science and the government to work faster for effective treatments.  

Readers can discover what it takes to fight a virus from wide ranging groups of people and organizations involved, including doctors, activists, citizen-scientists, government agencies, and patients themselves. Many will recognize Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who has played a leading role in the US response to both pandemics.

HIV/AIDS is still considered an active pandemic and difficult, if not impossible, to compare accurately with the current novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. In many ways, it is better to contrast the two events in terms of response.

How to Survive a Plague
 won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Nonfiction (2017) and was also named one of Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Decade. 


Find it here: 


James Parrott 

Collection Management Librarian 


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