Three excellent recent books attest to how much remains to be understood about the AIDS epidemic, and even about its most well-studied years, the 1980s and 1990s. While varying by discipline and approach, these books converge around a common set of preoccupations: the potency of historical legacies, the vigor as well as the fragility of counterpublics, the tensions between individualizing and collectivizing responses to disaster, and the social management of despair. Yet despite their virtues, these books also raise questions about the limitations of accounts that isolate HIV/AIDS as a distinct scholarly topic.

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