Book review: Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, by Sean Strub

body countsStrub, Sean. Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival. Scribner. 2014. $30. 432p. HC. 978-1451661958.

“Powerful.” Lily Tomlin’s succinct comment on the cover of Body Counts ideally describes the book’s impact. Strub is an AIDS and LGBT activist, the founder of Poz magazine, U.S. Congressional candidate, producer of The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, etc. etc. His memoir covers his personal and political life during the tumultuous AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and into the 90s. Seemingly present at all of the widely-publicized movements and protests, Strub name-drops so many well-known figures that the book feels like a gay version of Forrest Gump.

Strub’s activism calls for a cure as well as personal and social acceptance of the disease. His publication, Poz, aimed at the HIV/AIDS community, emphasizes living a full life with the disease rather than viewing it as a death sentence.

Body Counts is incredibly hard to put down. Strub’s heartfelt, warm, engaging tone includes a sense of humor. From an activist with seemingly unending amounts of creativity, Strub’s story will appeal to readers who lived through the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s, younger readers who take advances in AIDS research for granted and need to be reminded of the work that is left to be done, and anyone interested in civil disobedience and political activism. Public and academic libraries would easily find readers for this book.

Reviewer: Anna Fidgeon
Digital Learning Initiatives Librarian
California State University, Northridge

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