Author Randy Shilts was a journalist before he became a best selling author ("And The Band Played On", "Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military"). His chronicling of the life of Harvey Milk from New York to San Francisco bears witness to the everyman struggles of gay men of that period. From the arrests and harassments in bars to the ultimate victory of being the first gay man elected to United Sates office, Shilts details every aspect of Milk's life. People famous then and now supplied detailed information on the kind of human being that Harvey Milk truly was. (Mind you, this book was written in the early eighties).
Told in a quickly paced and unrelentingly thorough style, Shilts shows how an ordinary man like Milk can make a global change (all after age forty). Milk did this before he was assassinated, making his story all the more intriguing, tragic and poetic. The recent Gus Van Sant film does a great service to the novel, but Shilts is the one that truly gets under the skin of Harvey Milk and displays a man full of integrity, conviction and humility. In his reporter's style, Shilts also describes Milk's associates, friends and coworkers, pulling together the fabric of a life cut far too short. Of course, see the film and the documentary, but read this book to truly comprehend how an ordinary man can turn into a hero for not just a minority, but also any underdog.