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Race Against Time Paperback – Oct 1 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: House of Anansi/Groundwood Books; 1 edition (Oct. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887847331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887847332
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.1 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #332,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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The AIDS pandemic of Africa has killed 19 million people, 4 million of them children. It is the world's worst health disaster since the Middle Ages. The problems are so staggering they seem incomprehensible. But Canadian diplomat Stephen Lewis manages to explain their roots, give them a human face, and outline solutions in his important book Race Against Time. As the United Nations Secretary General's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Lewis has an insider's view of the political stonewalling of Western countries as well as the brutal realities of AIDS-ravaged villages in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Lewis is the son of federal New Democratic Party leader David Lewis and was himself head of the Ontario NDP. He is frank that he has "a love affair with Africa"--first kindled when he was a teacher in Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda during the early 1960s. After a stint as Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Lewis launched into a new career as an international diplomat, holding top jobs at UNICEF and the World Health Organization. He doesn't hide his fury at Western complicity in Africa's AIDS catastrophe. He says African countries were brought to their knees by World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies that forced many governments to gut health care and social programs in the 1980s. Africa's hamstrung societies were unable to care for their citizens when AIDS struck. "I have spent the last four years watching people die," he writes. "The ongoing plight of Africa forces me to perpetual rage. It's all so unnecessary, so crazy." Lewis's book is passionately written and poignantly brings home the truth that the distant tragedy in Africa is not so distant at all. --Alex Roslin

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
...while antiretroviral, preventative care, and medicinal treatments for HIV/AIDS receive less than a paltry fifty billion.

A trillion for weapons.

Fifty billion for HIV/AIDS.

The most astonishing thing about reading Stephen Lewis' book is not from the mass of appropriate statistics he presents on the scourge of the pandemic (as part of a Massey Lecture Series).

It's not in his eloquently- and convincingly-presented fulminations on the absolute futility of the global community to do anything of substance and efficacy in the face of the spread of HIV and AIDS.

It's not even in the cogent manner in which Lewis presents his views as part of his convincingly stepwise dialectic how to - at the very least! - make a small but significant dent in the growing cataclysm of HIV/AIDS.


It's by way of a reveal from his recent last trip to Africa, to Zambia. In his own words, as he sat in front of a group of young women suckling their young, backed by a gathering of grandmothers, now co-opted into taking care of their young grandchildren and the children of others orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

As he describes it, he asks them where have their young men gone?

A hushed murmur descends upon the swelling mass. In this township - or illegal (unincorporated) settlement on the fringe of the capital Lusaka's cityscape, as in many other cities across this once-illustrious continent -- men (males, that is) hardly exist!

They've been murdered by the global community.

That's right, decimated by a global community which spends - to the ludicrous tune of a 20:1 ratio - more than one trillion dollars (!!!) on the international arms trade.
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Format: Paperback
Every now and then, there is a book everyone must read.
Racing Against Time, by Stephen Lewis, is that book.
His eloquent oratory on Africa's AIDS pandemic (and the world's
complicity) makes riveting reading-the page takes
nothing of his voice away: it amplifies it, it adds vibrato to his
plea for every person & nation to hear it and respond.
Stephen Lewis gives a highly personal account of a
numbing-scale disaster, in a tone as immediate as the
mega-tragedy of our times. Profoundly stirring.
I would also like to recommend-The Quest by Giorgio Kostantinos.
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By Friederike Knabe TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 19 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"I have spent the last four years watching people die..."

Thus begins this passionate account of the victims of the AIDS pandemic in Africa, the people who struggle to survive and the efforts of those helping stem the tide. Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary General's special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, has been criss-crossing Africa documenting the ongoing dramas and the rest of the world to raise awareness, commitment and funds from the richest countries. The book comprises five separate, interrelated lectures, the CBC Massey Lectures, that Lewis delivered in the fall of 2005. They were broadcast across Canada and beyond. Lewis is a commanding orator, well known for his engagement in humanitarian causes. You can hear his powerful voice through the text of this slim volume. The style is direct and very personal. The reader shares his frustrations, sadness and despair and, finally, his energy and optimism that, eventually, the battle against AIDS will be won. It is a book that everybody should read.

Lewis talks about his deep love for Africa stemming from years living and working in different countries during his young adult life. Throughout his career, he was in positions that took him back to that continent, whether as special advisor on Africa or as deputy executive director of UNICEF. Each lecture focuses on one aspect or another within the wide range of issues that require attention in the context of HIV/AIDS in Africa. In his first lecture he sets out the context and historical perspective. He then moves on to his personal encounters with victims and their supporting families. In the next lecture he singles out education as one vital component to prevent the spread of the disease.
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Format: Paperback
The next best thing to attending a Massey lecture is reading the transcript I suppose. In this case, Stephen Lewis comes across in print with as much precision and wit as he does in person. His plea for Africa is truly inspirational. However, while his insider's perspective on the UN is valuable, I find he spends a bit too much energy enumerating its faults.
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