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Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  552 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Sean Strub, founder of the groundbreaking POZ magazine, producer of the hit play The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, and the first openly HIV-positive candidate for U.S. Congress, charts his remarkable life; a story of politics and AIDS and a powerful testament to loss, hope, and survival.

As a politics-obsessed Georgetown freshman, Sean Strub arrived in Washington, D.C., fro
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Scribner
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Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“One of the lessons of Catholicism that stuck with me, even through the periods when I was most furious with the Church, was that life’s meaning is found in contemplation, penance, service. Of these three, my only real talent is service. I’ve always been more interested in action than reflection.”
Sean Strub ~~ Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival


Sean Strub's Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival is a brutally honest memoir focusing on a dark period of A
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, recs
A memoir of AIDS activism from the founder of POZ magazine, Body Counts reflects on the state of gay male life in America during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Sean Strub begins by overviewing the cultural and sexual effects of gay liberation during the seventies, before he shifts to discussing the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic and detailing activists’ responses to it during the eighties and nineties. All the while, he charts his personal transformation from straight-edged politico t ...more
Ije the Devourer of Books
This is the story of a movement!

Sean Strub's 'Body Counts' is like a sequel to Paul Monette's 'Borrowed Time.'

In Borrowed Time we learn about dying from Aids. In Body Counts we journey through the tragedy of death but move through to life, learning what it is like to live with HIV and Aids and to fight against it in all the different ways it rises up to oppress people.

We are drawn into politics, memories, love, activism and the challenge of living with the virus.

It is an excellent book which al
Rambling Reader
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is hard for me to decide between 4 and 5 stars as this is certainly one of the best memoirs I'v read. Strub seemed to skim over some painful topics like his childhood abuse and the deaths of his loved ones. Perhaps the pain was too raw, too visceral for him to write in depth.

I usually do not have the time to write a true book review as I find that trite and overused, but this book has compelled me to write down my thoughts.

I enjoyed the pictures that he included along with the vignette style
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's easy to admit being biased in offering praise for an author's memoir, especially when that author is somewhat responsible for saving your life, if not thousands of lives.

Sean Strub's astute combination of activism, political pragmatism, and financial expertise combined brilliantly in his career fighting the AIDS epidemic. In 'Body Counts,' Strub not only shares eloquently written chapters, but his life and career exemplify the struggle of the modern gay rights movement and a community's re
R.J. Gilmour
The book is an autobiography about Stub's career as a Washington politico in the 1970s and New York activist in the 1980s. A journey of self-discovery Strub's life also mirrored the lives of a generation of gay men who came from the sticks to the big city just as gay culture changed because of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Truth be told, I wanted to really like this book. It is after all an important story that needs to be told.

However, Strub's narrative is weighed down by the constant name-dr
Eddie Clarke
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very absorbing account of the AIDS crisis, right from its inception to the point where combination therapies started to have an effect on the trajectory of the virus, told from the viewpoint of an intelligent, energetic, creative and politically engaged individual. Sean Strub as a young man arrived in NYC just as the crisis was about to hit; in the mid-90s he was in the final stages ('90 in 9') with KS when the combination therapies arrived just in time to revive him, Lazarus-like, from his de ...more
Trish Anderson
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by my cousin, a must-read.
Maggie Shirley
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BODY COUNTS is equal parts memoir and history book. Strub details his story leading up to and throughout the AIDS epidemic, but there is so much more information about the epidemic beyond his personal experiences. It’s all woven together beautifully and told with such passion and love—but pulls no punches. I learned so much and can’t recommend this book enough.
b aaron talbot
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
an amazing memoir/autobiography/non-fictional account of strub's life. to say this book is profound or inspirational is an understatement...he shows in stark realities how the personal is political, especially for gay men who were raised in restrictive or non-nurturing environments. I was angry as strub recounted the pitifully shameful political history of AIDS in the U.S.; I was angry at strub as he recounted personal conclusions he comes to as a result of his behaviors/choices; I cried as he t ...more
Victoria Noe
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific memoir that takes you from the halls of Congress to the front lines of the AIDS epidemic. Couldn't put it down! ...more
Ross Hunter
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Omg there was so much info in this book I lit cud not absorb it all but amazing + I learnt so much xx
This book felt so incredibly honest, which is why the activism described is so inspiring. I give Strub so much credit for admitting mistakes, and sharing so openly embarrassment, insecurities and traumas. I learned so much about the AIDS crisis & subsequent activist movement, and it really moved me hearing about it this way. I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating memoir by a prominent activist of 30 plus years standing, telling the story of the fight against AIDS from its earliest days, and the human cost of the disease. Well worth reading.
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Let me open by saying that Sean Strub’s Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival is an essential, engaging piece of social history that belongs on everyone’s reading list. Word!

Body Counts is one of a number of books being released this spring that reflect back on major social movements of the late 20th Century. Other such titles include Eating Fire, Freedom Rider Diary, and Resister, all of which I plan to review upon their release. For some readers, these will be “history” bo
Charlie Smith
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's my review as seen on my blog: HERE WE ARE GOING:

I'm sad I'm not able to attend the signing of Body Counts by Sean Strub (CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT MR. STRUB AND THE BOOK - THIS IS A MUST BUY, BY THE WAY) tonight at Politics and Prose in D.C. I mean, it's only an hour away from Frederick. And a Universe. But even if I met Mr. Strub, I don't know that I'd be able to speak. In the same way, I feel unqualified to adequately express what this book - Body
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great, great book. The author is one of the lucky ones who had a seroconversion in the late 70s and is still alive today, thanks to having money for great medical care and access to treatments that not everyone could get. He got so sick at one point, he and his loved ones were preparing for his death. He managed to live long enough to get some of the drug cocktails that worked for him and his legions went from deep into his lungs to GONE!

Along the way, he was a political activist and a successfu
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most memoirs are simply that: a story of a person’s life. But Iowa native Sean Strub’s memoir “Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival,” does more than just tell his exemplary personal history. It also details the history of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and the brave men and women who led the movement for education and equality.

Born and raised in Iowa, Strub became enamored with politics at a young age, landing a page position in the Iowa State Senate and in 1976, wh
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most remarkable books I have read lately - as powerful as Larry Kramer's play 'The Normal Heart' and so compelling that I finished it in two days.

Near the end of this memoir, Strub states that - although a number of people have labeled him as such - he resists the word 'hero'. If so, he cannot maybe deny the term 'leader'. Graced with entrepreneurial spirit from something like the age of 5, Strub grew into a man with the kind of leadership quality that was simply invaluable when peop
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a tough read, as evidenced by the two month reading period. Strub chronicles a very difficult period in LGBTQ rights and advocacy, a period that many of my generation are disconnected from. I have long been aware of the elements of my community's history but never in the detail to make it real and visceral. I found this book incredibly valuable as a way to connect with a legacy and a period of activism that many, including I believe Strub, believe to be dead. Many of the chief players i ...more
Memoir written by someone who was there throughout the AIDS pandemic and who narrowly escaped death, saved by protease inhibitors and other effective treatments. It is in part a witness account of this disaster. Strub has some harsh criticism for not only the Reagan but also the Clinton administration for their reluctance to fund research and prevent deaths through programs such as needle exchange. It is also a memoir in the traditional sense in which the author reviews his life, explores sensit ...more
Sean Strub's memoir is overall a good read. It's filled with great history about HIV/AIDS, especially when it was first coming in to light in the 1980s. For someone who was born (1987) and came out (2002) long after the brunt of the epidemic, it provides an eye-opening, first-hand account of what coming out and being gay was like in the past, and especially his own experience living with AIDS. I especially enjoyed this book because I was able to identify and recognize a lot of the names and grou ...more
It's not the best-written memoir, but modern memoirs rarely are, and it doesn't commit any sins that its contemporaries aren't just as guilty of. It is a very interesting point of view of a lifelong activist and plague survivor. I work for POZ, the magazine he founded, so for me it was also valuable to see where the magazine started and how it grew into the current version of itself. Which is why I'm not rating it, I guess? But I find it difficult to rate memoirs like these: The writer's experie ...more
Deb Wolf
A wonderful memoir that brought tears as I remembered the sadness of the 80s and early 90s when so many people lost their lives. But more important was reading again of their bravery in organizing, protesting and by their actions, forcing a disinterested government (and medical community) to action. So many lively and lovely lives would have been spared if not for the apathy and attitudes of those including our then president Reagan. A book worth reading but be prepared to both cry and be enrage ...more
Rob Murphy
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a powerful memoir! From Congress to ACT UP, this book recounts some truly amazing and important events. This book brings up a wide variety of emotions. There are tender moments, angry moments and historically important moments. A great number of players find their way into this memoir including Larry Kramer, Bill Clinton, Peter Staley, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal. This memoir is filled with critically important issues, addressed with honest and dignity.
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After watching The Normal Heart on HBO I realized that there was a huge gap in my education. I knew about the stigma and fear that surrounds HIV/AIDS but I had no clue how bad the time really was. The author was very candid about the things that happened. The slice of history represented here is definitely worth knowing.
George K. Ilsley
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, gay, memoir
There is a trope that "the personal is political" but Strub has taken that idea and ran with it. I'm old enough to remember many of the events in this memoir, and they also affected my life in ways that I am still unpacking. It is often said that we are missing a generation of gay men; however, Strub demonstrates that not all are missing. ...more
Andy White
An important book for those that did not live through the great plague. It stirred up many memories for me. I would summarize that this is a tender textbook. It is packed with many details. A slight irritant is that there seems to some name dropping.
This was a good read. I appreciated the author's matter-of-factness and lack of pretense. ...more
Dan Kagan
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish every young gay person would read this important and brilliant book. Thank you Sean Strub for all you do.
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