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The Viral Underclass: Book summary and reviews of The Viral Underclass by Steven W. Thrasher

The Viral Underclass

The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide

by Steven W. Thrasher

The Viral Underclass by Steven W. Thrasher X
The Viral Underclass by Steven W. Thrasher
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Book Summary

From preeminent LGBTQ scholar, social critic, and journalist Steven W. Thrasher comes a powerful and crucial exploration of one of the most pressing issues of our times: how viruses expose the fault lines of society.

Having spent a ground-breaking career studying the racialization, policing, and criminalization of HIV, Dr. Thrasher has come to understand a deeper truth at the heart of our society: that there are vast inequalities in who is able to survive viruses and that the ways in which viruses spread, kill, and take their toll are much more dependent on social structures than they are on biology alone.

Told through the heart-rending stories of friends, activists, and teachers navigating the novel coronavirus, HIV, and other viruses, Dr. Thrasher brings the reader with him as he delves into the viral underclass and lays bare its inner workings. In the tradition of Isabel Wilkerson's Caste and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, The Viral Underclass helps us understand the world more deeply by showing the fraught relationship between privilege and survival.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Thrasher, a professor of journalism, public health, and queer studies at Northwestern University, debuts with a powerful look at 'the relationship between viruses and marginalization'...Rigorous scholarship and intimate portraits of life and death on the margins make this a must-read." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Powerful and revelatory, this is an essential, paradigm-shifting book." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An irresistibly readable and humane exploration of the barbarities of class...readers are gifted that most precious of things in these muddled times: a clear lens through which to see the world." - Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine

"I fully expected to encounter rigorous research and a full accounting of the relevant history in Dr. Steven W. Thrasher's The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide. But what excited me and kept me rapt the entire time was the astonishing level of craft and depth of compassion with which the book was written. More than just sets of facts, Dr. Thrasher illuminates truths, all of which implore us to live by the grandest, most liberating of all principles: love. The Viral Underclass is journalism and journey, science and sermon, astute articulation of grievance and pathway to healing. It is vital reading." - Robert Jones, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of The Prophets

"In The Viral Underclass, through a combination of broad and deep reporting and narrative storytelling, Steven Thrasher examines the ways HIV/AIDS and other viruses strike people and communities with deliberate intention. His book is essential reading for our current moment―and a signpost for understanding epidemics to come." - Linda Villarosa, author of Under the Skin and contributor to the New York Times bestselling The 1619 Project

This information about The Viral Underclass was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Steven W. Thrasher

Steven W. Thrasher, PhD holds the inaugural Daniel H. Renberg chair at Northwestern University's Medill School, the first journalism professorship in the world created to focus on LGBTQ research. He is also a faculty member of Northwestern's Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. A columnist for Scientific American, his writing has been widely published by The New York Times, Nation, The Atlantic, Journal of American History, BuzzFeed News, Esquire and New York. In 2019, Out magazine named him one of the 100 most influential and impactful people of the year, and the Ford Foundation awarded him a grant for Creativity and Free Expression. An alumnus of media jobs with Saturday Night Live, the HBO film The Laramie Project and the NPR StoryCorps project, Dr. Thrasher has also been a staff writer for The Village Voice and a columnist for The Guardian. He holds a PhD in American Studies and divides his time between Chicago and New York. The Viral Underclass is his first book.

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