All the Young Men

All the Young Men

In 1986, 26-year old Ruth visits a friend at the hospital when she notices that the door to one of the hospital rooms is painted red. She witnesses nurses drawing straws to see who would tend to the patient inside, all of them reluctant to enter the room. Out of impulse, Ruth herself enters the quarantined space and immediately begins to care for the young man who cries for his mother in the last moments of his life. Before she can even process what she's done, word spreads in the community that Ruth is the only person willing to help these young men afflicted by AIDS, and is called upon to nurse them. As she forges deep friendships with the men she helps, she works tirelessly to find them housing and jobs, even searching for funeral homes willing to take their bodies - often in the middle of the night. She cooks meals for tens of people out of discarded food found in the dumpsters behind supermarkets, stores rare medications for her most urgent patients, teaches sex-ed to drag queens after hours at secret bars, and becomes a beacon of hope to an otherwise spurned group of ailing gay men on the fringes of a deeply conservative state.

Throughout the years, Ruth defies local pastors and nurses to help the men she cares for: Paul and Billy, Angel, Chip, Todd and Luke. Emboldened by the weight of their collective pain, she fervently advocates for their safety and visibility, ultimately advising Governor Bill Clinton on the national HIV-AIDS crisis.

This deeply moving and elegiac memoir honors the extraordinary life of Ruth Coker Burks and the beloved men who fought valiantly for their lives with AIDS during a most hostile and misinformed time in America.

Title:All the Young Men
ISBN:9780802157249
Format Type:

    All the Young Men Reviews

  • Angela M

    I don’t read very many memoirs, but when I do, I need them to be about extraordinary people and I was not disappointed. Right from the start, we see the fear that people had of those with AIDS,the f...

  • Cheri

    Ruth Coker Burks was a young single mom living in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the spring of 1986 along with her young daughter, a daughter whose father was in the picture on weekends until a car accident...

  • Collin

    Three nurses draw straws to see who must attend to the patient in the room with the red tarp covering the door. The patient, or whatever lies behind that door must pose a danger to the nurses because ...

  • Sharon Metcalf

    As recently as last week I became aware of this memoir when I read a trusted friends five star review of it. It sounded inspiring and Angela's words describing All The Young Men. A Memoir of Love, AI...

  • Laura

    I have thought long and hard about what to say about this book, and whatever I come up with doesn’t seem to do it justice. This is a book that will shake you to your very core, restore your faith in...

  • Stephanie

    Sometimes when you browse around on NetGalley, you find a book that calls out to you and that you know you have to read, whether you get approved for it or not, and fortunately, I was lucky enough to ...

  • Jill Dobbe

    I first heard of Ruth Coker Burks, the author of All the Young Men, on television. This book delves into so much more of her personality, her life, and her work and mission. Burks is a truly remarkabl...

  • Em__Jay

    ALL THE YOUNG MEN is one of those books that produced so many varied and opposing emotions in me. I cried. I laughed. I was angry. I was in awe of Ruth Coker Burks who single handedly did so much to h...

  • Sara

    i didnt fully process the author until halfway through the synopsis. if you know queer modern history, particularly the aids epidemic, you may know about ruth coker burks, but you probably remember he...

  • Katee

    Ruth Coker Burks is in the hospital visiting a friend when she hears someone asking for help behind a curtain.  No one seems to be heading for the cries of help so she pokes her head in.  She discov...