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Ashes to Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris
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Ashes to Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  182 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
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, medi
Paperback, 832 pages
Published July 29th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
For the most part, a fascinating history of tobacco and tobacco companies that answers many questions you may have had about cigarette branding & advertising. Just who was Philip Morris anyway? Later, it becomes a polemic as the author gleefully chronicles the lawsuit era.
Tin Wee
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
This books outlines the rise of the tobacco industry in America, focussing primarily on the health concerns that arose primarily after WWII, reaching its peak only in the 80/ 90s. The book puts forth a case that the industry did know about the potential health concerns through its own research, but chose to consistently discontinue/ suppress research which could more conclusively prove causality between smoking and lung cancer/ heart disease. /the book also highlights the current concerns with E ...more
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Colleen by: found it at library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Phew! It took some getting though but I finally managed to finish the book. This book is definitely not a page turner, but to be fair to the author, the subject does not lend itself to being a page turner. Having said that, I have read other books on similar topics that are far more captivating.
Moving on the content, this is probably as comprehensive a book on the tobacco industry as a lay person might want. The book has three broad themes; one of the evolution of the industry from chew tobacco
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wish I could have finished this book. It was just so dry and way too in depth. I picked this up wanting to get a better understanding of just how shady the tobacco industry is. I didn't need it to explain how the body metabolizes nicotine or the myriad of other chemical reactions that takes place and while an overview of the history of is to be expected I didn't really need to know it's history in detail from the time of the fricken bronze age. By the time I got to the meat and potatoes of the ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer, 2016
nonfiction (history/business/politics/science). These rat bastards strike me as alarmingly similar to the businesses and industries who continue to claim global warming is not a real, proven thing, bribing Congress to loosen environmental sanctions so that they can continue to amass millions/billions in profits at the cost of public health and well-being. And for everyone's sake, I hope that marijuana is as safe as its users believe it to be (they really haven't done enough studies to know for ...more
Austin Gaghadar
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and thought provoking read about real issues and institutions within our society. Extensive history of the cigarette industry in America and the health claims and other struggles that the industry was dealing with up to the publication of the book. Amazing job done tying together the legal, social, psychological, health and business relations to cigarettes throughout the book and still telling a comprehensive story. However at times there seemed to be too much detail and the boo ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Incredible depiction of how the tobacco industry manipulated policymakers and the public to distort the debate about the health risks and regulation of tobacco. The lessons the industry learned have been adopted by the NRA and the food industry, with the former closely replicating the biggest successes of cigarette manufacturers (preemption and libertarian rhetoric) and the latter realizing they need to figure out a strategy to reign in the damage of sugar and fat content before the government t ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Didn't think it was possible for me to think less of cigarette manufacturers but this book made that happen. To know what they have known for so long and to continue to peddle cigarettes in the way that they have is just incredible. This exhausting story of the history of the cigarette industry is fascinating in the way that the industry has manipulated so many in the quest of dollars. I use examples from this book in my economics courses--you can't make up better examples of predatory pricing a ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kluger has written an encyclopedia documenting nearly every mover-and-shaker in the history of Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds, as well as legions of anti-smoking activists trying to hold them accountable. The book starts in workmanlike prose, but gains momentum as Kluger examines the 1960s onward. Interesting details--the mechanization of cigarette rolling, the reasoning behind the classic ad jingles.... But you will feel frustration as you learn of the industry's slippery lies and their seeming ...more
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating. It was a bit slow to start, but by the end (warning: it's almost 900 pages of pretty dense history) I had a much better grasp of the history, science, and politics of the tobacco industry - both in America and internationally - than I had ever had before. He writes with various people, companies, and interest groups as protagonists, like a sprawling Latin American family epic, and is remarkably even-handed at the same time as he recognizes the indisputable medical/moral aspects of s ...more
Jewell Anderson
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: societal pundits/ social historians
V. interesting, Pulitzer winning treatise on this most pernicious industry. And, while the author does manage to successfully imbue the characters with enough, well, character to keep readers engaged I found the pace a bit dulling. This is another "by read I mean didn't finish" (see also: Bury The Chains); however I may get back to this one...
Bridget Reed
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Really incredible detail and revealed a lot of things that I was completely in the dark about. Difficult to read due to the sheer depth of information that makes it difficult to keep the companies and characters in order.
Adam Schweigert
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sooooo looong. That said, if you're really interested in public health and corporations' ability to thwart government action then this is a worthwhile read. Just know that it's very dry and goes into excruciating detail.
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
For those who is (or was) working in cigarette/tobacco company, this book is deserved to read. A pullitzer-price winner, a bit dense and tiring with a lot of fact, but anyway an eye-opener of this industry.
Constantin Manuel
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. I always wondered how cigarettes became such a huge moneymaker despite the obvious health risks. This book answers those questions and more. This is one of the best books I read all year.
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

This book alternates between being extremely fascinating and extremely tedious. I only wish it were a little newer, and thus more relevant.
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Yawn. Terribly dry and unexciting. It's been a while since I read it, but I remember trying to like it.
Jun 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Big book but interesting history of cigarette industry.
Kevin Ng
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I like the book, and it gave me a lot of history and background about cigarette companies.definitely worth reading!
rated it liked it
Aug 01, 2017
gerald n moody
rated it did not like it
Oct 05, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2014
Rob Whitnell
rated it really liked it
Jul 01, 2017
David Bart
rated it it was amazing
Aug 24, 2015
Steve Moore
rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2015
Andre Oliveira
rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2014
Valentino Bentley Jr.
rated it it was amazing
Mar 11, 2017
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Richard Kluger won the Pulitzer Prize for Ashes to Ashes, a searing history of the cigarette industry, and was a two-time National Book Award finalist (for Simple Justice and The Paper). He lives near San Francisco.
More about Richard Kluger...
“Output had fallen to about half that figure in the last years of the Red empire, causing a cigarette shortage so severe that Soviet ruler Mikhail Gorbachev was forced to stave off rioting by emergency bulk purchases from foreign manufacturers—20 billion units from Philip Morris was the largest single order—paid for with Russian oil, gold, and diamonds.” 0 likes
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