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The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America Paperback – January 6, 2009
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Brandt's examination of the promotional tactics employed by the industry was particularly interesting. It is easy to forget that the Marlboro Man is not a natural American icon, but the product of an aggressive and highly calculated advertising campaign. I was reminded, too, of the disproportionate number of cigarette and alcohol advertisements in the inner city of Chicago--Brandt's analysis of the industry's interest in racial and ethnic minorities put this in an unfortunate context. One can only hope that policymakers pay attention to Brandt's findings. (Be sure to read the epilogue for an interesting and timely mention of tobacco in current politics.)
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in history, medicine, science, politics; in short, for anyone interested in understanding more about our past, present and future.
Cigarettes have been around for a long while in the United States but not until James Bonsack's rolling machine came into play in 1881 (churning out 200 cigarettes per minute) could they be distributed on a wide-scale basis. It wasn't until World War I, however, that the national demand for the product really took off, and did it ever! Brandt's book is a parallel study of American sociological history of the twentieth century as cigarettes have been at the center of so much of our cultural life. Women began smoking in earnest in the 1920s and Hollywood added its own weight with countless movie stars puffing away in countless films to remind the public of the "joys" of smoking. Advertisements abounded and cigarettes were here to stay.
Along came the 1950s and things began to change. This is where Brandt's book really takes off as he begins to shape the "controversy" between the industry and those determined to warn Americans of the risks of smoking. The Surgeon General's report of 1964 declaring smoking to be hazardous to one's health (later packaging warnings reminded the smoker of the same) was a big first step as the public was beginning to question the safety of cigarettes. While more and more research on the dangers of cigarette smoking was made public, the tobacco companies fought tooth and nail to assure Americans that all was well.Read more ›
So, 40+ years after "The Surgeon General has determined..." in 1964, this is still an issue. SG Luther Terry's political skillfulness in getting that report to happen added him to my list of heroes.
This book is much more widely applicable, because it ably chronicles distortion and obfuscation of science by economic and political interests.
Some kinds of scientific proof depend on long efforts to accumulate evidence, need good statistical analysis. Such are not amenable to simple lab experiments, and even when they are, may well not be ethical. ("Here: try this: we want to see if you get cancer" is properly not done.) Topics whose science is of this sort can be prone to long, drawn-out fights, especially when the scientific results threaten strong interests whose best approach is controversy and confusion.
The conflicts over sulfates:acid rain and CFCs:ozone depletion resemble smoking:disease, but the clearest parallel with the latter is the battle over CO2: human-induced global warming.
In both cases, there were:
A) people who believed something (and sometimes exaggerated) well in advance of the science (anti-tobacco moralists, global warming alarmists), and sometimes irritated others by their stridency.
B) people who had economic interests (tobacco companies, oil companies), who took very strong (but opposing) positions.Read more ›
- Considering the sloppiness in the composition of so many non-fiction texts published since the turn of the century, the logic and elegance in the organization of this material is utterly astonishing. To all the lazy SOB's who cough up old weblogs and then call them a "book" - LOOK AND LEARN: this is how the contents of a non-fiction book should be organized!
- The prose is exactly the right match for the material, sophisticated without being pedantic or jargonish (difficult to accomplish once the topic turns to medical diagnoses).
- While exhaustively annotated (70+ pages of notes), the citations do not interfere with the narrative in even a single instance
It doesn't matter whether you think tobacco producers are heroes or murderers - you should buy this book simply to admire and enjoy the sheer craft of it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Most excellent as "The Cigarette Century" is who reads it? Are the readers the millions of smokers who will die from their tobacco use. I suspect not. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Marc DePree
Lucky Strikes is such a great name for a product, it makes you want to reach for a Lucky instead of your sweetheart. Read morePublished 6 months ago by flapping in traumatized laughter puddle
Impossible to finish....it drones on and on. Badly needs editing. I'm dipping into it from the index and then will return to library. Read morePublished 10 months ago by dana m
This book is well researched and fascinating in parts. However, I'm still struggling to finish it as the editing is awful. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Meg Bridgeman
It's a thick, full book, happily inexpensive enough to buy one and take a look. It gives detailed, readable coverage of the rise and success of the cigarette (inhaling--"Do You... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Pursuingknowledgeandperspectives
I'm trying to get angry enough to quit smoking forever and this is working!!Published 22 months ago by Reggie Johnson