Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic by Richard A. McKay

Richard A. McKay’s Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic is a social history of the early days of the AIDS crisis in North America built around the harmful myth of the “patient zero”. The book contextualizes the story of Gaétan Dugas, the French-Canadian flight attendant who was vilified as the origin of the disease. In a larger history of scapegoating in times of epidemic, McKay’s book delves into Dugas’s personal life as well as the role played by Randy Shilts’ And The Band Played On (1987), the first popular account of the crisis. Continue reading

Review: Hardboiled History: A Noir Lens on America’s Past

‘Hardboiled’ refers to crime fiction, narratives usually focalised through tough or cynical detectives and centring primarily on organised crime in prohibition-era United States. The genre of noir, however, categorises fiction that takes the perspective of a victim, suspect or spectator. While closely related to the Hardboiled genre, these differing perspectives are notable. Thus, the ‘Noir lens on America’s Past’ promised to interrogate these genres, the manner in which they addressed social anxieties, and their continuing legacy and influence. Continue reading