Ruth Coker Burks was a young single mum in Hot Springs, Arkansas who cared for people with AIDS when no one else would in the 1980s and 1990s. With no medical background, Ruth single-handedly created a network of care, and saw to the final resting places of roughly a thousand men abandoned by families and neglected by medical professionals. For 30 years, Ruth has been an advocate for the LGBTQ community. She currently resides in Northwest Arkansas.
this gripping account [...] highlights the transformative power of kindness. * Woman & Home * a beautiful book, catching [Ruth's] Southern sass and charm. * The Sunday Times * All The Young Men was extraordinary - she's extraordinary. Love in action. * SARAH WINMAN * An extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman fighting for the rights of people with AIDS - and for the very acknowledgement of their existence - in her native Arkansas, in the early years of the crisis. Challenging, and sometimes changing hostile attitudes of individuals, communities, church and state she battled with courage, wit, knowledge, compassion, and a heart of solid gold for the local gay community and for those gay men who, coming home to die, were rejected by their families. Because for Ruth, this was love in action - it was the right thing to do. She and her daughter Allie became family with 'her guys'; a simply astonishing memoir. * KATE CHARLESWORTH * Know this will be an incredible important read... * SIMON SAVIDGE, Savidge Reads * Deeply moving memoir [that] honours the extraordinary life of Ruth Coker Burks and the beloved men who fought valiantly for their lives during a most hostile and misinformed time... a must read * RU PAUL * A moving, inspiring testament to one woman's courage, love and kindness in the midst of a deadly hate-filled pandemic. * Peter Tatchell * Throughout the memoir, it's hard not to fall in love with Burks for her big-heartedness and enduring sense of humor in the face of suffering...As Burks forges a path alongside these vulnerable men, her embrace of education and rejection of bigotry light the way forward for us all * Book Page * If you are hungry for a humane approach to an epidemic, read this astonishing book. * RICHIE JACKSON, author of Gay Like * Anecdotes of small-town gay bars and drag queen rivalries add levity to tales of hardship and sacrifice-crosses set ablaze on her lawn, her young daughter ostracized at school . . . This worthy account offers as much bitter as sweet. * Publishers Weekly * Burks' vivid memories of 'my guys' and the trials she endured fighting against prejudice offer a portrait of courageous compassion that is both rare and inspiring . . . [A] deeply moving, meaningful book. * Kirkus Reviews * A powerful memoir... Burks's spirited, straightforward prose balances the heartbreak of her story with just enough humor and toughness. A must-read for anyone interested in narratives of front-line responses to the early AIDS crisis as well as personal accounts of kindness and determination. * Library Journal, starred review * This astonishing modern-day Good Samaritan story will move you to tears of sadness and outrage, but also buoy you. For Coker Burns is a do-gooder with sass. And hers is a story of ordinary but heroic human empathy that we could all do with reading right now. * CAROLINE SANDERSON, The Bookseller * All The Young Men is an urgent story that needs to be told about the early years of AIDS in the American South. From her first moving encounter with an abandoned young man hours before he died, Ruth Coker Burks cares for ill gay men and fights homophobia with compassion, wit, courage and righteous anger. It's inspiring and compelling to read of her battles against indignities and intimidation, bigoted families and churches, and demeaning health care. The reader cheers her on when Coker Burks finds both opponents and allies in her work. She writes of Jimmy, Howard, Douglas, Danny, Neil, Tim and Jim, Marc, Bob and Phil, Chip, Luke, Angel, Jerry, Misty, Billy and all her 'guys': 'I wanted them to be counted, to have their lives matter.' All The Young Men achieves that beautifully, memorably, in their honour. * ROBERT HAMBERGER, author of A Length of Road *