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A Question Of Intent: A Great American Battle With A Deadly Industry
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A Question Of Intent: A Great American Battle With A Deadly Industry

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  168 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Tobacco companies had been protecting their turf for decades. They had congressmen in their pocket. They had corrupt scientists who made excuses about nicotine, cancer and addiction. They had hordes of lawyers to threaten anyone—inside the industry or out—who posed a problem. They had a whole lot of money to spend. And they were good at getting people to do what they wante ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published March 21st 2002 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2000)
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Nov 04, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Holy Moly!

After 10 years of working in tobacco control, I really thought I knew the ins and outs of the evils of the tobacco industry. My knowledge had only scratched the surface.

The level of murder, manipulation, cover-ups is truly mindblowing.

I rarely read nonfiction, and I almost never read things that are work related. This was recommended by someone who is a pumonlogist, a lawyer and a former NJ Commissioner of Health. When he said it reads like a novel, I thought, "Yeah, sure, to YOU - ub
Josh Horn
Mar 26, 2013 Josh Horn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: law-and-policy
As both a lawyer and doctor Kessler was well qualified, though young (only 37), to head the FDA, and the impact his administration had on public health is a testament to his effort and leadership abilities. Not only has Kessler intimately detailed the FDA's course of exploring tobacco regulation, but his writing imparts the gravity of those decisions, making the book both rich in detail and intoxicating narrative. As someone who was in elementary school during Kessler's administration, the subst ...more
This book recounts Kessler attempt as head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cigarettes as a drug. I'll cut to the chase; the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 that the FDA didn't have the authority to do this. I got to page 346 when I lost interest, so I would by no means say this is a bad book. Kessler does talk about more than cigarettes, but that is the focus. The title, "question of intent," gets to the legal aspect of the FDA's case; the intention of the prodcuer to change the ...more
Seeking Sister
Aug 25, 2008 Seeking Sister rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-science
If you are interested in learning about the power of the tobacco industry and the questionable ethics of the men (and women) we elect to write laws and protect our interests, I would encourage you to read this book. It is difficult to avoid anger when reading about the complicity of congressmen, in protecting a dangerous and harmful practice. Concern for public health and safety took a back seat to profits and power. The author was head of the FDA for a number of years. He played an instrumental ...more
Jul 02, 2007 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: policy nerds
Okay, I told myself I would only review books I'd read in the last 9 months or so (don't want to fake a literary lifestyle that I'm not actually living), but even though I read this years ago I'm going to review it because it's still on my bookshelf, and because it was AWESOME.
I read it for a graduate poli sci class, and even though it was 400 fairly dense pages, I was sucked in. Staying up until 3:30 sucked in. It's a policy/thriller; the true story of the battle to regulate cigarettes as drug
Linda Howe
Sep 04, 2016 Linda Howe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful and thought-provoking

This book on the FDA journey to regulate tobacco provides great insight into the challenges faced by those in our government committed to following their conscience. The bravery to follow through on a politically-charged topic is inspiring, as is David Kessler and those who worked on this mission.
Sep 09, 2008 Janna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Political/history buffs, journalists, smokers, avid non-smokers
Recommended to Janna by: college!
I read this book in my media studies class in college. It's giant and amazing. David Kessler was the former FDA commissioner, and this book is his retelling of the battle against big tobacco. This book came out the same year as the film The Insider and makes a great companion to the missing pieces of the movie. If you like American history, scandal, whistle blowing, and the legal system -- you'll like this book.
Sep 15, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was pretty entertaining and informative and really highlighted how politics at all levels affect policy. I particularly enjoyed all the random facts about the tobacco industry and how they conceptualized and manipulated their product and was pretty appalled (but not entirely shocked) at how the industry was able to dodge regulation for so many years.
Mar 20, 2007 Tano rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, providing an in-the-trenches look of the efforts of David Kessler & the FDA to combat the tobacco industry. Very impressive read for anyone who is against said industry, and probably good background reading for anyone who works for it.

I'm personally glad I read this book, it elevated my distaste for the tobacco industry to an even higher level.
Daniel Ginsburg
Oct 14, 2013 Daniel Ginsburg rated it really liked it
This book is a bit dated, but it's still a good read. I read it as part of an MBA class on business ethics. It's kind of like a combination of a detective novel, a chapter from a history book, and a legal thriller all rapped up in one. As one chapter ends the book grabs you in and gives you no other option but to keep reading - be careful!!
Mar 31, 2008 Brooke rated it really liked it
This is an incredibly interesting book that reads like fiction but is totally fact. It's all about the FDA's quest to regulate tobacco and the war that the cigarette companies wage. It's just really informative and very fun to read... especially if you like reading about government policy but often find it very dry!
Oct 10, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. Not only about tobacco but also tells a great story on how the recommended daily calories on nutrition labels were selected (spoiler alert: the meat and sugar lobby had a big influence - shocker). Written in an engaging style, Kessler illustrates how the FDA is pushed around by the political and corporate interests.
Dec 14, 2008 Mfalco65 rated it really liked it
I read this book shortly after seeing the film "The Insider." It proved to be a great compliment and somehow, I found myself more compelled with the investigative spirit and rich details of Kessler's book. He provided such thorough evidence and a compelling case for the wrongs perpetuated by the tobacco industry and the fight to make them atone for their sins.
Heather G
May 12, 2013 Heather G rated it it was amazing
David Kessler is my public health hero. Book reads like a thriller in some spots and is quite entertaining. Scary look at the influence of industry and politics on public health issues. Shows how manipulation of public opinion is orchestrated. Take away point: don't smoke!
Anthony Faber
Nov 18, 2014 Anthony Faber rated it it was amazing
Interesting real life mystery of how the FDA (the author was the head of FDA) managed to find out what the tobacco industry is really doing with nicotine levels in cigarettes, by surmounting a great wall of non-disclosure agreements.
Jun 14, 2010 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
Reading this book in my Ethics class. Fascinating autobiography on how Kessler (head of FDA at the time) took on the tobacco companies - still reading it, but it has caught my attention much like a good fiction book would.
Jun 04, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it
I read this for a school course, and really enjoyed it. It reads like a thriller novel but with enough details and evidence to please the nerdiest of book nerds.
Apr 29, 2010 Patiki rated it it was amazing
Author is a lawyer and a doctor. (He must hate himself...) Anyway, it's probably the only true story ever written that is both entertaining and an excellent example of mens rea.
Timothy R.
Sep 13, 2007 Timothy R. rated it really liked it
I suppose this is a tell-all by a Washington insider. I knew a lot about the subject matter going into it, but I think it's fairly readable for others.
Jan 05, 2012 Anja rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great book if you are interested in how policy works, probably a little bit biased as it is written by Kessler, but incredibly interesting and worth reading.
A Wanlass
Jan 11, 2008 A Wanlass rated it it was amazing
Facinating book, the sort that sticks with you.
Rita My
Rita My rated it it was amazing
Sep 09, 2013
Feb 04, 2009 Brady rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A book about the insidious workings of the tobacco industry. It'll piss you off!
Tim Fawcett
Tim Fawcett rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2014
Jun 07, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing
I'm usually pretty leery of political memoirs, but this was great and inspiring.
Neal rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2012
Erica rated it really liked it
Feb 07, 2011
Molly rated it liked it
Jul 06, 2015
Hal rated it really liked it
Apr 24, 2015
Greyskylark rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2012
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(David Kessler is also the name of another author, a hospice expert who worked with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, although David A. Kessler did co-author a book on elder care.)

David Aaron Kessler is an American pediatrician, lawyer, author, and administrator (both academic and governmental). He was the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from November 8, 1990 to February 28, 1997, and
More about David A. Kessler...

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