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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

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  134 ratings  ·  24 reviews
This is the David-and-Goliath story of how an American bureaucrat took on the tobacco industry -- and helped topple it.

David Kessler, head of the Food and Drug Administration for seven years under Presidents Bush and Clinton, earned the nickname "Eliot Knessler" from The Washington Post -- a pun meant to evoke the memory of the Prohibition-era gangbuster -- because he reju
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Hardcover, 492 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2000)
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Rachel
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
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Josh Horn
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
Converse
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
Vicki
Jul 02, 2007 Vicki rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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Seeking Sister
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
Janna
Sep 09, 2008 Janna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
Elizabeth
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.
Tano
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.
Mfalco65
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.
Daniel Ginsburg
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!!
Brooke
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!
Heather G
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
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.
Eric
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.
Patiki
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.
Anja
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.
Suzanne
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.
Timothy R.
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.
Brady
A book about the insidious workings of the tobacco industry. It'll piss you off!
Matt
I'm usually pretty leery of political memoirs, but this was great and inspiring.
Patti
Had to read for class..it had it's interesting moments.definitely got you riled up..
Wrensmom
Great book. I already loved David Kessler, and now I love him even more :)
A Wanlass
Facinating book, the sort that sticks with you.
Gabriel Glissmeyer
Gabriel Glissmeyer marked it as to-read
Jan 23, 2015
Ryan
Ryan marked it as to-read
Jan 15, 2015
Colleen
Colleen marked it as to-read
Jan 01, 2015
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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
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More about David A. Kessler...
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