Daniel’s book helps fill in a lot of the gaps, and when Peter’s pre-diary years are laid out as a backdrop, one gets a true sense of the phenomenal development that Peter went through. The book underlines how he was, in many ways, a very normal individual with all the usual imperfections. But he rose to the challenges of AIDS with remarkable inner strength and courage. Daniel’s book shows us the three-dimensional person that Peter was.
—David Paperny, CBC “AIDS Diary” producer
Well-informed, funny, intelligent and balanced…Gawthrop explains issues beautifully, without diatribe or condescension…Neither fawning nor judgemental, Gawthrop’s portrait shows an exceptional but human individual.
—Books in Canada
Daniel Gawthrop chronicles this astonishing career with meticulous care…Dr. Peter’s character comes across as an amalgam of candor, stamina and unwavering dedication…Gawthrop could not have chosen a more appropriate title for his book.
—Bay Area Reporter
Substantial and moving…Gawthrop’s book avoids hagiographic tendencies… Affirmation reveals the connection between Dr. Peter’s efforts to raise viewers’ consciousness and his own growing awareness of what it means, in our society, to be a gay man with AIDS—to be doubly marginalized.
The book is not only moving but significant because, like some episodes of ‘AIDS Diary’ itself, it forces the reader to acknowledge the cultural context of AIDS…This account humanizes a person who, in sharing his life and death with millions of people, had unavoidably become idealized. By doing so, it makes Dr. Peter’s accomplishments that much more admirable.
—BC Medical Journal
Gawthrop, while moving readers with Dr. Peter’s courage, is careful to describe his experience with AIDS as a journey, not a battle—the odyssey of a man learning not how to die but how to live.
In the same kind of narrative style Randy Shilts employed in his landmark book about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On, Gawthrop tells a compelling story about the man behind the diaries and the pain he conquered to tell them….[The] book is the first of AIDS journalism published in Canada since June Callwood’s Jim: A Life With AIDS in 1988.
Jepson-Young… sensed in Gawthrop a biographer who would accomplish what so few AIDS chronicles have managed: a non-maudlin portrait of someone suffering terminal illness without deification of the subject which, while being clear, concise and reasonably non-clinical, still has a heart.
Gawthrop’s strength in his writing is his objectivity. No one is called on the carpet for their opinions, their possible anti-gay leanings. Rather, the facts of what happened are simply reported. And that’s what makes this book so satisfying—the objectivity in which Dr. Peter’s life is presented and the reactions of those around him.
—Medicine Hat News
The book brings in family, friends, lovers, doctors and more, adding context and continuity to a life to which the public was only granted brief access.
Through this intimate look at [Dr. Peter’s] thoughts and feelings, Affirmation reveals a whole person, not just an “AIDS patient and spokesman,” a person it’s easy to care about. Affirmation is written thoughtfully, intelligently and knowledgeably.