All the Young Men

By Ruth Coker Burks, Kevin Carr O'Leary,

Book cover of All the Young Men

Book description

"A renegade Florence Nightingale cares for the ill in a remarkable tale of compassion and combating prejudice" The Guardian

'Breath-taking courage and compassion [...]a beautiful book' The Sunday Times

'An extraordinary tale' Evening Standard

'If I have one message with this book it's that we all have to care for…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked All the Young Men as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Since long before COVID, Ruth Coker Burks has lived a life of service to people who were abandoned by their families after being diagnosed with AIDS.

In the dark days of that epidemic, she cared for them, advocated for them, even buried them in her own family plot in Arkansas. She persevered despite relentless bigotry and hatred that included cross-burnings on her front lawn. Nothing stopped her.

Coker Burks earned the nickname ‘cemetery angel’ by proving that everyone can make a difference in the lives of others. I’m honored that we have become friends, because she inspires me every day.

From Victoria's list on friendship and grief (and pandemics).

This true story begins in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1986, when Ruth Corker Burkes, a solo mother of limited means is visiting a friend in the hospital. There she comes across a young man who has been shunned and left to die alone from the then little-understood and much-feared “gay disease”. Corker Burke stays with this stranger, affording him comfort and dignity in his last hours, and a final resting place in her family’s cemetery. ‘Jimmy’ becomes just the first of many HIV-infected men Corker Burkes helps during the terrifying AIDS crisis. She becomes their carer, advocate, and community educator,…

While the rest of America stigmatized and shunned people living with HIV, Burks, a divorced single mother in 1980s Arkansas, stepped up to give dignity, kindness, and care to the dying. Her bravery will stun you, and make you question whether you could have done the same. Her matchless personality, somehow both huge and understated, will have you turning the pages as fast as you possibly can.

From Emily's list on for contemplating mortality.

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