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 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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