Twenty years in the making, Sarah Schulman’s monumental LET THE RECORD SHOW is the most comprehensive political history ever assembled of ACT UP and American AIDS activism.
LET THE RECORD SHOW:
A Political History of ACT UP, New York, 1987-1993
by Sarah Schulman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 2021
(chez Dystel Goderich & Bourret)
In just six years, ACT UP, New York, a broad and unlikely coalition of activists from all races, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds, changed the world. Armed with rancor, desperation, intelligence, and creativity, ACT UP, NY took on the AIDS crisis with an infatigable, ingenious, and multifaceted attack on the corporations, institutions, governments, and individuals who stood in the way of AIDS treatment for all. They stormed the FDA and NIH in Washington DC and started Needle Exchange in New York; they took over Grand Central terminal and fought to change the legal definition of AIDS to include women; they transformed the American insurance industry, weaponized art and advertising to push their agenda, and battled—and beat—the New York Times, the Catholic Church, and the pharmaceutical industry. AIDS Activism in its complex and intersectional power, transformed the lives of People With AIDS and the bigoted society that abandoned them.
Based on more than 200 interviews with ACT UP members and rich with lessons for today’s activists, LET THE RECORD SHOW is a revelatory exploration—and long overdue reassessment—of the coalition’s innerworkings, conflicts, achievements, and ultimate fracture. Schulman, one of the most revered queer writers and thinkers of her generation, explores the how and the why, examining, with her characteristic rigor and bite, how a group of desperate outcasts changed America forever, and in the process created a livable future for generations of people across the world.
Sarah Schulman is the author of novels, nonfiction books, plays and movies. Her recent works are Maggie Terry, The Cosmopolitans, which was picked as one of the “Best Books of 2016” by Publishers Weekly, and a nonfiction book, Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair. Previous novels are The Child, Shimmer, Empathy, Rat Bohemia, People in Trouble, After Delores, Girls Visions and Everything, The Mere Future, and The Sophie Horowitz Story. Her nonfiction titles are Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia And Its Consequences, The Gentrification Of The Mind: Witness To A Lost Imagination, Stagestruck: Theater, Aids And The Marketing Of Gay America, Israel/Palestine and The Queer International, and My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During The Reagan/Bush Years.