Forty years in the making, The American People sets forth Larry Kramer’s vision of his homeland. As the founder of ACT UP and the author of Faggots and The Normal Heart, Kramer has decisively affected American lives and letters. Here he reimagines our history. This is the story of one nation under a plague, contaminated by greed, hate, and disease and host to transcendent acts of courage and kindness.
In this first volume, which runs up to the 1950s, we meet prehistoric monkeys who spread a peculiar virus, a Native American shaman whose sexual explorations mutate into occult visions, and early English settlers who establish loving same-sex couples only to fall prey to the forces of bigotry. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton revel in unexpected intimacies, and John Wilkes Booth’s motives for assassinating Abraham Lincoln are thoroughly revised.
In the 20th century, the nightmare of history deepens as a religious sect conspires with eugenicists, McCarthyites, and Ivy Leaguers to exterminate homosexuals, and the AIDS virus begins to spread. Against all this, Kramer sets the intimate heartfelt story of a middle-class family outside Washington DC trying to cope with the darkest of times. • Picador Trade Paperback (picadorusa.com). —Troy Carrington