Since the day that Christopher Columbus first observed native Americans 'with firebrands in their hands and herbs to smoke after their custom', tobacco has wound its way into every corner of modern life. In its various forms smoking has soothed and irritated us, inspired and stupefied us, beguiled us on screen and outraged us in train carriages. Robert Burton wrote in The Anatomy of Melancholy that tobacco was divine, 'a sovereign remedy to all diseases'. Nearly four centuries later, the Oxford Medical Companion dryly noted that tobacco is the only legally available consumer product that kills people when it is used entirely as intended. We've come a long way, baby. With contributions from the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh and Kenneth Williams, Samuel Johnson and Helen Fielding, The Faber Book of Smoking tells the fascinating story of one of humankind's most persistent and peculiar habits.
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(216mm x 136mm x 26mm)
Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Smoking has been with us from the days when tobacco was first smoked by native Americans through the heavy smoking eras of the 28th and 19th centuries, up to the wary smokers of the present day. Outlining the social history of tobacco, this book also deals with snuff and chewing tobacco, still popular in the deep south of America. It is a fascinating history, even to a non-smoker, not perhaps a book to be read at one sitting, but to be dipped into to enjoy the historical, literary and humorous references. Tobacco has been praised as an aid to philosophical thought, a method of calming those of a nervous disposition and was considered as essential to the armed forces as guns and bullets. It has also been reviled as a major element in the spread of cancer. Although the selection appears to be fairly even-handed in its treatment of the subject, tobacco's benign influence, its ability to promote friendship between people who do not share the same language or culture and its sedative qualities, make the reader realize why it has lasted so long. It is certainly a book that you will want to return to again and again, in fact it is almost positively addictive. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - James Walton
James Walton is the television critic for the Daily Telegraph and has been the writer and presenter of Radio 4's books quiz, The Write Stuff since 1998. (Sadly, his Radio 4 pop quiz All the Way from Memphis didn't last quite as long.) His first book was The Faber Book of Smoking, which was published to great critical acclaim back in the far-off days when you could still smoke in pubs.