A fine history of “the political economy of tobacco.”

THE CIGARETTE

A POLITICAL HISTORY

The cigarette in America, a history that “does not begin and end with Big Tobacco.”

Milov (History/Univ. of Virginia) mixes big-picture academic theory with fascinating, specific details to illuminate the rise and fall of tobacco production—and cigarette sales—in the United States. In 1965, writes the author, “politicians, experts, and everyday Americans increasingly knew that cigarettes were deadly…yet 42 percent of Americans smoked.” The estimated number of smokers today is 15 percent. Milov shows how sales were boosted by the combined efforts of tobacco growers, wholesalers, retailers, industry lobbyists, public relations professionals from the private sector, labor unionists, and players within federal, state, and local governments. Then she explains how the increasingly well-documented health hazards from cigarettes led nonsmokers—including public-interest lawyers—to push local governments and employers to curtail smoking in public places and workplaces. At intervals within the mostly chronological narrative, the author discusses how tobacco farmers and cigarette manufacturers managed to sell their products in countries all over the world, with deadly consequences for consumers but positive economic consequences for foreign governments through the taxation of those consumers. Mostly, though, Milov focuses on American politics and the consumers affected by the policies surrounding cigarettes. At times, the author engages with philosophical questions: Is smoking a legal “right”? Do nonsmokers have a “right” to reside in a nonhazardous environment? Who should decide those rights when claims conflict? Throughout, Milov offers intriguing historical tidbits: For example, cigarette sales shot up during both world wars because U.S. military leaders decided the troops would feel appreciated if they received free cigarettes while deployed. In addition, the author shares compelling information about why labor union leaders wanted smoking allowed on the job even after the deadly nature of cigarettes became evident. The leading insight: Unions did not want to surrender control over what became mandatory smoking breaks.

A fine history of “the political economy of tobacco.”

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-674-24121-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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