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The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Persistence of the Product that Defined America
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The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Persistence of the Product that Defined America

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  262 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
From agriculture to big business, from medicine to politics, The Cigarette Century is the definitive account of how smoking came to be so deeply implicated in our culture, science, policy, and law. No product has been so heavily promoted or has become so deeply entrenched in American consciousness. The Cigarette Century shows in striking detail how one ephemeral (and large ...more
Paperback, 600 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Basic Books (first published March 12th 2007)
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This will change your view of everything tobacco, unless you are an industry insider who has testified before Congress.

The most amazing thing is the methods of promotion, advertising, and marketing that were invented to sell cigarettes in America. That these techniques have spread across the entire spectrum of American life is even more troubling considering their origins.

Allan Brandt provides incredible documentation and resources for the reader. The web links to the documents released to the p
Mar 05, 2013 Loring rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book four stars even though it was hard going. It is much easier to read a 500 page novel than it is to read a 500 page academic tome, but it was worth the read.

The name "Big Tobacco" took on new meaning as I read, morphing from meaning "the major tobacco companies" to "the major tobacco companies that lied and manipulated to earn millions and kill millions, turning apparent big losses into big wins." But as the meaning of Big Tobacco was fleshed out, it also shed light on the histor
Apr 06, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As the title implies, this thick tome is dedicated to 100 years of the cigarette industry, mostly within the US. Brandt tells the story of its quick rise from a minuscule portion of the tobacco trade (during the reign of the spittoon) to the ubiquitous product of today. It’s certainly a big book; about half way through I put it down and read about cholera just to maintain my sanity. However it was easy to resume as this is a most interesting history.

Being a persecuted, misguided consumer myself
Michael Clifford
This book was interesting, I am glad I read it, but it was a bit of a slog. You have to want to read this book! It tracks the 100 year history of the cigarette - from its early development (J.B Duke, American Tobacco Company - yes Duke of Duke University) to the early 21st century.

It is an amazing story of marketing - how long the industry was able to portray the cigarette as healthy and indicative of a cool lifestyle. We largely think of the cigarette today as unhealthy and a ignorant choice fo
A physician-historian, Brandt packs an intellectual one-two punch that will kill off any notion that corporations have their consumers' best interests at heart quicker than a 3-pack-a-day habit. Clear, even-handed and cogent.
Sep 21, 2016 Louis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Allan M. Brandt’s The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America explores the history of the cigarette in the United States as well as why, despite the numerous harms associated with it, the cigarette remains prevalent.

Duke was one of the early adopters of machines, at time when cigarettes where usually rolled by hand, and was able to undercut competitors. Duke formed a tobacco trust which enjoyed near monopolistic power; however, the trust was
Mar 09, 2009 E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tobacco’s road: comprehensive history of the cigarette

Today, it is hard to imagine that people once considered cigarette smoking glamorous. It’s equally hard to find an adult in the U.S. who has not experienced the devastating affects of smoking, either losing a loved one or battling cancer. The rise of the cigarette left nothing untouched. As it burned through American culture, smoking changed the way industry, government, science and health organizations operate and interact. In this comprehen
Jan 11, 2013 Bethany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
"One central question for the evaluation of skepticism is 'what evidence would be convincing?' One sign that openminded doubt has turned intractable is the answer: 'I cannot say.'"

This book covers the history of American tobacco from the 20th century into the early 21st. I learned a ton. As a nonsmoker, I was horrified to learn (since I had always taken the rules for granted) that there was a time when passengers could smoke on planes.
From Big Tobacco's creation of consent through advertising to
It is difficult to find a person who has not been touched in some way by the all-encompassing reach of the tobacco industry -- from the carefully crafted marketing manipulations to the well-documented health risks associated with smoking and second hand smoke. The cigarette has featured prominently in our culture, politics, legal system and public health debates for more than century.

In The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America, Allan Brand
Nov 01, 2014 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating material dragged down by stodgy, academic prose. I've been spoiled by the New Yorker, whose vigorous editorial style renders even the driest subject into tight, vibrant prose. Brandt comes to the material with a mountain of research and a clearly justified moral outrage. He carefully lays out how the tobacco industry dissembled and lied about the risks of smoking, how they refused any responsibility for their product, and how they used their power to turn any regulatory attempt to th ...more

Harvard medical school professor Allan Brandt has written a history of the tobacco industry, focusing on the twentieth century and the United States. The first pages have some material relating to the earlier history of tobacco, and the final chapter is devoted to international developments, in particular the treaty on tobacco control developed by the World Health Organization. The epilogue is about his experience as an expert witness for the federal government in case against the industry.


David Bird
Mar 02, 2013 David Bird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alan Brandt's modest thesis is that the saga of the cigarette is intimately woven into nearly every part of the story of the United States in the 20th century. And he pretty much does it. The powerfully cautionary tale is less about the perils of vice than of greed.

Here is the archetypal story of one of the most evil inventions of the 20th century: Public Relations. Edwin Bernays has much to answer for, and this book provides a case study of why. The tactics invented in defense of cigarette pro
Jan 01, 2008 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People in sales and advertising
This book is not so much a history of the cigarette itself but rather a comprehensive history of the tobacco industry and its markenting tactics.
Smoking, throughout history, is seen as a class issue (what kinds of people smoke cigars, cigarettes, snuff, plugs, etc), and this book cronicles the efforts of the industry to control the perception of people who smoke.
Smoking cigarettes makes you unfeminine? Virginia Slims turned it into a feminist issue.
People don't smoke Lucky Strikes because the g
Oct 19, 2009 Angel rated it it was ok
The book is interesting at times, but it also does bog down in some technical minutiae. It is a history of the tobacco and cigarette industry from the early days in the United States to today. The changes in cultural norms over time is pretty interesting. It is interesting to see how cigarettes go from being something seen as healthy or beneficial to the terrible product they are perceived to be today. Also interesting is how the companies have done their best to deceive, misinform, misdirect, s ...more
Oct 12, 2010 Cathy rated it it was amazing
Interesting analysis of the history of the tobacco industry. The cultural review throughout the previous century was engaging. It was interesting to see a once very popular and acceptable product fall out of favor with the American consumer and actually become a disdained, negatively-viewed substance. The level that the tobacco companies would resort to to maintain the product's popularity with the public was despicable. The health risks were evident and documented long before I was aware, but m ...more
Paul Mccarthy
Sep 12, 2013 Paul Mccarthy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book, I was shocked to learn about the huge impact of cigarettes on American culture. It was also impressive to learn about all the different ways that tobacco companies have branched out and continue to branch out across the globe.

My first introduction to this book was actually for school, and I must say that I am glad this was my required reading material. The amount of information within this book makes it something of a textbook, but Dr. Brandt writes so fluently that it
Daniel Muwazi
Jan 13, 2016 Daniel Muwazi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it was very informational as well as entertaining. And it opened my eyes to the some ugly truths of how industries lie to the general public
Bruce MacNeil
Sep 13, 2008 Bruce MacNeil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is an excellent book, and not just about cigarettes.

I highly recommend Allan Brandt's "The Cigarette Century". It's extremely well-written and well-paced, and will either give you a new angle at which to look at cigarettes or reinforce the thoughts you may have had already. Great job of tracing the roots of the cigarette industry to its "high water" mark in the 1950s, and then a thorough explanation of how it managed to survive and even thrive in some respects in the past fifty years.
Feb 19, 2012 Phillip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. It takes the reader through the story of how cigarettes in the 1880s and 1890s where considered to be for poor dirty people and carries us through the process of how that changed to smoking becoming an almost universal consumer product in the U.S.. Then we end with the story of cigarette legislation, the ads to fight tobacco use, and a shift in the industry to foreign markets.

This is a great book for watching the power of corporate organization and advertizing.
Oct 27, 2014 Mike rated it liked it
Thoroughly-researched, detailed portait of Big Tobacco and it's machinations in the 2nd half of the 20th Century.
Sam-Omar Hall
Dec 18, 2014 Sam-Omar Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this in ebook form, and it seemed like I wasn't making any progress — like the book was SUPER long. "Hm, must be a lot of footnotes," I thought to myself.

I got a hardcover copy from the library and it was huge! Still, it's a great read. Because it's written by a Harvard medical historian, it's very thorough and meticulously researched.

Can there be a better villain than the tobacco industry? I can't think of one.
Will Bass
May 30, 2013 Will Bass rated it really liked it
One of the most informative books I have read. Enjoyed the acquisition of knowledge more than the book itself. It was dry and the author would constantly repeat himself. In need of a much lighter read now. I reservedly recommend this book to someone who is either deeply interested in the subject or has a high tolerance for lulls of boredom. The second half of the book, concerning the medicine and litigation, was much more exciting.
Jul 05, 2009 Jim rated it it was amazing
a devestatingly detailed history of the american tobacco industry. the history itself is fascinating - the lows to which the tobacco industry has stooped are truly incredible and the deftness with which it has played the american public and government equally shocking. it also includes recurring well-developed themes on the nature of causation, the meaning of risk and autonomy.

just an outstanding book.
Kevin Kirkhoff
Jul 19, 2014 Kevin Kirkhoff marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Read the introduction, so far. I guess it's supposed to be a big hit piece on Big Tobacco. I don't smoke. Never have. Back in the '60s my Dad would say that cigarettes are "cancer sticks". Not sure what the big deal is. Anyone dumb enough to start smoking after 1950 has to know the dangers. It's a free country. You can harm yourself however you want.
And I don't buy the second-hand smoke claim.
Annie Guzzardi
Oct 06, 2012 Annie Guzzardi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable and very interesting topic. It's amazing how dastardly the cigarette companies have been and how the legal war with them continues to this present day. I've always though 'Cigarettes are bad, open/shut case!' but the regulation of the industry is still being formed today in 2012!! Enjoyed the book; it have me a different perspective on smoking.
Jul 14, 2009 Dirtyshooze rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read about the tobacco industry -- has kept me ticked off at the morons deep within the industry on almost every page!! -- providing expansive insight on societal trends that help understand why it took so long for the Beast to be held accountable. Thanks, Congress, for being so complicit in the devil's dealings...
Bradley America
600 pages of "The tobacco industry lied about tobacco's deadliness and also they'e brilliant PS cigarettes will kill you" -- reread the first half of this sentence 12,000 times and then add this book to your Read shelf
Aug 13, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read. Docked it a star for the author's tendency to repeat himself (and the book is strong enough to not need such padding). But definitely a must-read for anyone interested in public health/sociology.
Oct 20, 2009 Kara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly, even more scandalous than one would imagine. If I remember correctly, I had to skim certain parts out of boredom. But when you get into the litigation, it gets super interesting super-fast.
Oct 05, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great read. dramatic tale of socio-cultural warfare with all the major players: industry, science, government, public health, all battling to define and control the world's most deadly product
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