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The Invisible People: How the U.S. Has Slept Through the Global AIDS Pandemic, The Greatest Human Catastrophe of Our Timeby Greg Behrman
The Invisible People is a revealing and at times shocking look inside the United States's response to one of the greatest catastrophes the world has ever known -- the global AIDS crisis. A true story of politics, bureaucracy, disease, internecine warfare, and negligence, it illustrates that while the pandemic constitutes a profound threat to U.S. economic and security interests, at every turn the United States has failed to act in the face of this pernicious menace. During the past twenty years, more than 65 million people across the globe have become infected with HIV. Already 25 million around the world have died -- more than all of the battle deaths in the twentieth century combined. By decade's end there will be an estimated 25 million AIDS orphans. If trends continue, by 2025, 250 million global HIV-AIDS cases are a distinct possibility. Beyond the ineffable human toll, the pandemic is reshaping the social, economic, and geopolitical dimensions of our world. Eviscerating national economies, creating an entire generation of orphans, and destroying military capacity, the disease is generating pressures that will lead to instability and possibly even state failure and collapse in sub-Saharan Africa. Poised to explode in Eastern Europe, Russia, India, and China, AIDS will have devastating and destabilizing effects of untold proportions that will reverberate throughout the global economy and the international political order. In this gripping account that draws on more than two hundred interviews with key political insiders, policy makers, and thinkers, Greg Behrman chronicles the red tape, colossal blunders, monumental egos, power plays, and human pain and suffering that comprise America's woeful response to the AIDS crisis. Behrman's unprecedented access takes you inside the halls of power from seminal White House meetings to tumultuous turf battles at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, heated debates in the United Nations, and chilling discoveries at the Centers for Disease Control. Behrman also brings us into the field to meet the people who live in the midst of AIDS devastation in places like a school yard in Namibia, the red-light district in Bombay, and an orphanage in South Africa. Intensely researched and vividly detailed, The Invisible People is a groundbreaking and compellingly readable account of the appalling destruction caused by more than two decades of American abdication in the face of the defining humanitarian catastrophe of our time.
In this landmark, character-driven history, Greg Behrman tells the story of the Marshall Plan, the unprecedented and audacious policy through which America helped rebuild World War II-ravaged Western Europe. With nuanced, vivid prose, Behrman recreates the story of a unique American enterprise that was at once strategic, altruistic and stunningly effective, and of a time when America stood as a beacon of generosity and moral leadership. When World War II ended in Europe, the continent lay in tatters. Tens of millions of people had been killed. Ancient cities had been demolished. The economic, financial and commercial foundations of Europe were in shambles. Western Europe's Communist parties -- feeding off people's want and despair -- were flourishing as, to the east, Stalin's Soviet Union emerged as the sole superpower on the continent. The Marshall Plan was a four-year, $13 billion (more than $100 billion in today's dollars) plan to provide assistance for Europe's economic recovery. More than an aid program, it sought to modernize Western Europe's economies and launch them on a path to prosperity and integration; to restore Western Europe's faith in democracy and capitalism; to enmesh the region firmly in a Western economic association and eventually a military alliance. It was the linchpin of America's strategy to meet the Soviet threat. It helped to trigger the Cold War and, eventually, to win it. Through detailed and exhaustive research, Behrman brings this vital and dramatic epoch to life and animates the personalities that shaped it. The narrative follows the six extraordinary American statesmen -- George Marshall, Will Clayton, Arthur Vandenberg, Richard Bissell, Paul Hoffman and W. Averell Harriman -- who devised and implemented the Plan, as well as some of the century's most important personalities -- Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin, Joseph McCarthy -- who are also central players in the drama told here. More than a humanitarian endeavor, the Marshall Plan was one of the most effective foreign policies in all of American history, in large part because, as Behrman writes, it was born and executed in a time when American "foreign policy was defined by its national interests and the very best of ideals. "
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