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Ashes to Ashes: America's Hundred-Year 

Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the 

Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris

      (6/10)

No book before this one has rendered the story of cigarettes — mankind's most  common self-destructive instrument and its most profitable consumer product —  with such sweep and enlivening detail.  Here for the first time, in a story full of the complexities and contradictions of  human nature, all the strands of the historical process — financial, social,  psychological, medical, political, and legal — are woven together in a riveting  narrative. The key characters are the top corporate executives, public health  investigators, and antismoking activists who have clashed ever more stridently as  Americans debate whether smoking should be closely regulated as a major  health menace. This book, written by Richard Kluger, won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-  fiction in 1997, and it is indeed very good. It is an older book (written in 1996),  but I have included it nonetheless because I think everyone with an interest in  public health should have a go at this. It is the most detailed history of the birth  and grow of the tobacco industry (in the US) and subsequently how it dealt with  any suspicions that their products may be unhealthy....or well, deadly. Based on  a large number of interviews and about half a million documents the companies  were forced to make public as the result of a lawsuit, and which showed that the  industry knew about the effects of smoking on health for decades, the book  described how the industry continued to deny and fight confirmation of the  health risks with every means possible, and with great success. As such, the  strategies employed by the tobacco industry have since become the blueprint for  any industry fighting public health claims about health risks of their products.  I would recommend this book to everyone who works in, or has an interest in  public health to get some insights in how these “wars” are fought. It is so  detailed it leaves no questions unanswered...  ...so why did I give such an important book just 6/10?   It is indeed, very, very detailed and hence I said above that everyone should  “have a go at it”. It really is quite hard work to take it all in; let alone get tot he  end. So despite its importance, in terms of readibility (if it is not for academic  interest) it is a struggle.    
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