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Thank You for Smoking Paperback – June 7, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

"Nick Naylor had been called many things since becoming chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. But until now no one had actually compared him to Satan." They might as well have, though. "Gucci Goebbels," "yuppie Mephistopheles," and "death merchant" are just a few endearments Naylor has earned himself as the tobacco lobby's premier spin doctor. The hero of Thank You for Smoking does of course have his fans. His arguments against the neo-puritanical antismoking trends of the '90s have made him a repeat guest on Larry King, and the granddaddy of Winston-Salem wants him to be the anointed heir. Still, his newfound notoriety has unleashed a deluge of death threats.

Christopher Buckley's satirical gift shines in this hilarious look at the ironies of "personal freedom" and the unbearable smugness of political correctness. Bracing in its cynicism, Thank You for Smoking is a delightful meander off the beaten path of mainstream American ethics. And despite his hypertension-inducing, slander-splattered, morally bankrupt behavior--which leads one Larry King listener to describe him as "lower than whale crap"--you'll find yourself rooting for smoking's mass enabler. --Rebekah Warren

From Publishers Weekly

"Nick Naylor had been called most things since becoming chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, but until now no one had actually compared him to Satan." So begins the adventures of this protagonist, a shamelessly slimy yuppie and PR flack par excellence for the tobacco industry. The story, such as it is, consists of Naylor's attempts to prop up his failing corporate star by expanding his defense of the evil weed. Working the airwaves, he engineers successful, hysterical appearances on Oprah and Larry King , after which he's kidnapped by anti-tobacco terrorists who attempt to murder him by plastering his body with nicotine patches. As usual, Buckley's humor is over the top, although he doesn't exactly choose tough targets (his previous novel, The White House Mess , tackled the decline and fall of the Reagan/Bush dynasty). But the blatant immorality of Big Tobacco inspires some wonderfully comic vehicles, such as the delightfully morbid M.O.D. (Merchants of Death) squad, a semi-secret weekly lunch club that consists of Naylor and fellow flacks for the NRA and the alcohol industry. The silly plot sometimes gets in the way of the funny stuff, and it's far more entertaining to watch Naylor try to maintain his fiefdom and satisfy his libido amid the madcap spin control. Buckley is a smoother, funnier and more refined heir apparent to Art Buchwald's throne, and this book cements his position as the best up-and-coming political satirist on the literary map. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 7, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060976624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060976620
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,813,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Buckley was born in New York City in 1952. He was educated at Portsmouth Abbey, worked on a Norwegian tramp freighter and graduated cum laude from Yale. At age 24 he was managing editor of "Esquire" magazine; at 29, chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. He was the founding editor of "Forbes FYI" magazine (now "ForbesLife"), where he is now editor-at-large.

He is the author of fifteen books, which have translated into sixteen languages. They include: "Steaming To Bamboola," "The White House Mess," "Wet Work," "God Is My Broker," "Little Green Men," "No Way To Treat a First Lady," "Florence of Arabia," "Boomsday," "Supreme Courtship," "Losing Mum And Pup: A Memoir," and "Thank You For Smoking," which was made into a movie in 2005. Most have been named "New York Times" Notable Books of the Year. His most recent novel is "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?"

He has written for "The New York Times," "Washington Post," "Wall Street Journal," "The New Yorker," "Atlantic Monthly," "Time," "Newsweek," "Vanity Fair," "National Geographic," "New York Magazine," "The Washington Monthly," "Forbes," "Esquire," "Vogue," "Daily Beast," and other publications.

He received the Washington Irving Prize for Literary Excellence and the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He lives in Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Wheelchair Assassin on February 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Nick Naylor, the protagonist of Christopher Buckley's "Thank You for Smoking," gives new definition to the term "antihero." Despite his position, he's not really a bad guy. Sure, he makes six figures a year lying through his teeth as the chief lobbyist at the Academy of Tobacco Studies in Washington, but he's not really making anybody smoke cigarettes. As he explains it, he's just moderating between two competing groups, namely the cigarette companies and the anti-smoking zealots. Besides, someone's got to pay the mortgage and his son's prep-school tuition. Even he realizes that his rationalization sounds like something a Nuremberg defendant might say ("I vas only paying ze mortgage"), but it takes a certain courage to go on TV and say there's no demonstrable link between smoking and disease. Perhaps Buckley's greatest achievement here is that he can take a guy who lies to sell cigarettes and make him into a sympathetic figure.
Nick Naylor's life provides the basis for Buckley's often hilarious look at the "neo-puritanism" of mid-nineties America and the attempts of tobacco companies to fight it. And although I hate cigarettes, I think a book like this needed to be written. Anybody who's ever been repulsed by those ridiculous "Truth" ads where a bunch of obnoxious young people harass those who make and sell cigarettes should get a good laugh at Buckley's portrayal of the sanctimonious forces of political correctness. As Nick tells Oprah Winfrey in one uproarious scene, cigarette opponents aren't above manipulating children and trying to tell everyone else how to think. And anything that takes the wind out of the sails of political correctness is fine by me.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I would have never guessed that I would even consider reading a book about a PR man for the tobacco industry ... and I certainly could have never imagined that if I did, I'd enjoy it so much!
I picked up Thank You For Smoking at the suggestion of a friend, and was pulled into the narrative immediately. The story is so tightly and entertainingly written that I practically inhaled it (pun intended), taking less than a day to finish the book's nearly 300 pages even though for the most part I had to read it a few pages at a time while working at a conference.
Author Christopher Buckley pulled off the seemingly impossible here: making a despicable protagonist like Nick Naylor seem sympathetic. I won't go into the way Mr. Buckley does it, but it is definitely worth finding out for yourself.
My only complaint is that the ending to the story wraps up a little too neatly, a little too much like Hollywood. It's a weakness, but not a serious enough of a weakness to cloud the value of this original and clever book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Christopher Buckley knows how to write satire that has a delicious bite along with the laughs. Nick Naylor, our protagonist, is a highly paid consultant for the tobacco lobby that is thinking about cutting back expenses because of their shrinking market and lack of success on the Hill. So, Nick decides on a plan to go on the offensive for the public mind and breath. Unfortunately for Nick, his new public notoriety brings attention from some folks who have a rather aggressive passion against smoking.

This book takes on everyone. Lawmakers, lawyers, lobbyists, amoral businessmen who don't care what they sell as long as they get rich, activists who are motivated by a lot other than their stated cause, media types, and the public. We all get it in ways that will make you say ouch and still find a laugh.

Good novel that has held up well.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Donald J. Bingle on April 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Dark comedy is a tough genre. Difficult to write and even more difficult to sell. It's always hard to be funny, but even harder when the topic is grim--the unnecessary deaths caused by smoking. While some people will be offended, the truth revealed in an excellent dark comedy is unsurpassed. This is not just a book about smoking. . .or lobbying. It is a book about smoking, lobbying, alcohol, firearms, cholesterol, cheese, spinning, the press (print, radio, and television), workplace politics, and career paths. Ultimately, it is about making your own choices and taking responsibility for the consequences. Those who view this novel as merely shining a spotlight on the evils of the tobacco industry have, I think, missed the larger point. Well-written, in a style that is both funny and informative (though occasionally abrupt), with enough densely-packed passages to please the literary crowd and enough surprises to be a page-turner. Highly recommended. Donald J. Bingle, author of Forced Conversion.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
A friend's parents brought me this book when I was down for the count with some serious health issues. The book is hilarious and fast-paced, and while it doesn't spend too much time delving into the minutiae of the lobbying industry (perhaps if it were written today), the reader does get a satirical look at how the wheels in Washington get greased. Everyone who borrowed the copy of this book that I had loved it as well. I'm thrilled that it's been made into a movie and that this book (and author Chris Buckley) will finally get the recognition that probably wasn't there when the book was first published. I can't wait to see the movie.
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