Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993

Sarah Schulman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $40 (736p) ISBN 978-0-374-18513-8
Novelist and AIDS activist Schulman (Maggie Terry) recounts the successes and failures of the New York chapter of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in this fine-grained history. Drawing on interviews with 188 members of ACT UP New York, Schulman showcases the diverse array of people who worked to raise awareness about AIDS, and notes their simultaneous involvement in related issues including homelessness, gender inequity in medicine, and needle exchange programs. She also explains how ACT UP New York leveraged an “inside/outside” strategy in which some members worked collaboratively with politicians and health officials while others created dramatic acts of protest, such as the 1989 infiltration of the New York Stock Exchange, when seven activists handcuffed themselves to a banister in a VIP balcony and threw fake hundred-dollar bills onto the trading room floor to pressure a pharmaceutical company to lower the $10,000-per-year price tag of the AIDS medication AZT. Readers less familiar with ACT UP may wish for a clearer explanation of its organizational structure and more narrative cohesion than Schulman provides. Still, her firsthand perspective and copious details provide a valuable testament to the courage and dedication of many unheralded activists. (May)
Reviewed on : 01/21/2021
Release date: 05/18/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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