Blood and Steel

Ryan White, the AIDS Crisis and Deindustrialization in Kokomo, Indiana


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About the Book

Set in the 1980s against a backdrop of the AIDS crisis, deindustrialization and the Reagan era, this book tells the story of one individual’s defiant struggle against his community—the city of Kokomo, Indiana. At the same time as teenage AIDS patient Ryan White bravely fought against the intolerance of his hometown to attend public school, one of Kokomo’s largest employers, Continental Steel, filed for bankruptcy, significantly raising the stakes of the fight for the city’s livelihood and national image. This book tells the story of a fearful time in our recent history, as people in the heartland endured massive layoffs, coped with a lethal new disease and discovered a legacy of toxic waste. Now, some 30 years after Ryan White’s death, this book offers a fuller accounting of the challenges that one city reckoned with during this tumultuous period.

About the Author(s)

Ruth D. Reichard is a historian and an attorney. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bibliographic Details

Ruth D. Reichard

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 250
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8489-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4264-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
1. Steel, Blood and Ryan White, 1896–1980: Capital and Commodification 15
2. Russian Roulette, 1980–1984 33
3. “Somewhere, there’s going to be that first student with AIDS wanting to go to school”: 1985 and the Question of Public Knowledge 52
4. Four Months in a Blast Furnace: December 1985–March 1986 87
5. “He’s the good guy, and I’m the bad guy”: February 1986–May 1987 113
6. “I am ashamed to admit that I even live here!”: Stigma and Transformation, 1987–1990 143
7. Blood, Steel and Ryan White: Erasure and Visibility, 1990–2020 169
Chapter Notes 193
Bibliography 221
Index 231

Book Reviews & Awards

• Finalist for Best Nonfiction Book, Indiana Authors Awards 2022

• “Writing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Reichard has produced an extremely relevant history that echoes many events of the last two years…solid…a fascinating read…a significant contribution.”—H-Net Reviews