Riveting journalism that probes the triple threat of vaping, nicotine addiction, and corporate greed.

How the electronic cigarette industry emerged, evolved, and imploded beneath the weight of controversy and grievous misguidance.

In this comprehensive scrutiny of the vaping craze and the business behind it, Bloomberg News investigative reporter Etter focuses on two major contributors. Faced with declining adult consumption metrics throughout the 1990s, cigarette titan Altria (previously known as Philip Morris Companies Inc.) and its former upper-level executive Howard Willard III, a tobacco-industry lifer, were desperate for a comeback. Etter seamlessly infuses this story with that of tech wunderkinds and ex-smokers James Monsees and Adam Bowen, who strived to develop a nicotine delivery prototype in 2006, positioned as a beneficial “public health contribution” and an alternative to more harmfully combustive tobacco products. The author diligently chronicles the numerous redesigns of their nicotine liquid vaporizing invention, the Juul, as well as the dogged attention from tobacco executives, whom Etter categorizes as “not unlike spies” as they grew gluttonous for opportunities to collaborate or create their own version of the vape pen. Despite “gung-ho dealmaker” Willard’s former contradictory affiliations with smoking cessation programs, he forged ahead, sacrificed public safety, and became a “Juulionaire” with many others. As the interests of big tobacco and Silicon Valley came together, the e-cigarette wars declared Juul the victor, though the product became mired in corruption regarding the maximization of nicotine’s psychoactive effects and deceptive advertising of candied flavor variations targeting youth on social media. The backlash from public safety watchdogs was brutal, and as consumer trust faltered, an onslaught of personal injury lawsuits sealed the product’s fate. Etter illuminates the crucial missteps that can occur when greed and poor leadership obscure the vision of an enterprising product. Armed with an immense body of research and insider interview material, the author digs deep into the controversial industry to reveal the avarice, scandal, corporate egotism, and rampant “political knife fights.” Pair this with Jamie Ducharme’s Big Vape to get the entire sordid story in meticulous detail.

Riveting journalism that probes the triple threat of vaping, nicotine addiction, and corporate greed.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-23798-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021



Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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