Richard Rene Silvin seemed to have it all. After overcoming a childhood of emotional neglect and trauma, much of which has been shared through the honest and brutal pages of his first book, I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools, Silvin transcended his past to lead an enviable life of power and world travel during a career in international hospital management. After decades of shame and hiding his sexuality, this handsome and successful man became true to himself, came ”out,” and burst forth into the hottest gay spots in Florida, California, New York, and Europe. Supported by beloved friends and eventually buoyed by finding his true love, Silvin could be seen as riding on top of the world.
All that glitters however is not always gold. A new phase of emotional and physical horror for Silvin and many others was on the horizon. Silently creeping its way into the life of so many during the late 1970s and early 1980s – including Silvin – was the then-mysterious illness to later be known as AIDS and caused by the as-yet unidentified human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). His professional life in cutting-edge international health care allowed Silvin to work with colleagues ahead of the curve in terms of HIV research, diagnostics, and medications. Yet he, his friends, and his partners fought overt discrimination and numerous painful, life threatening complications of the virus, which in a grisly succession eventually claimed all those dear to him, despite their hard fought and heroic efforts.
Walking the Rainbow: An Arc to Triumph shares with readers Silvin’s battles, both won and lost, on the pathway to understanding and struggling with the war against the deadly virus.
Journalist Cooper has a compelling story to tell: born into a wealthy, powerful, dynastic Liberian family descended from freed American slaves, she came of age in the 1980s when her homeland slipped into civil war. On Cooper’s 14th birthday, her mother gives her a diamond pendant and sends her to school. Cooper is convinced that somehow our world would right itself. That afternoon her uncle Cecil, the minister of foreign affairs, is executed. Cooper combines deeply personal and wide-ranging political strands in her memoir. There’s the halcyon early childhood in Africa, a history of the early settlement of Liberia, an account of the violent, troubled years as several regimes are overthrown, and the story of the family’s exile to America. A journalist-as-a-young-woman narrative unfolds as Cooper reports the career path that led her from local to national papers in the U.S. The stories themselves are fascinating, but a flatness prevailsâ€”perhaps one that mirror’s the author’s experience. After her uncle’s televised execution, Cooper does the same thing I would do for the rest of my life when something bad happens: I focus on something else. I concentrate on minutiae. It’s the only way to keep going when the world has ended.