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Ashes to Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morrisby Richard Kluger
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, medical, political, and legal -- are woven together in a riveting narrative. The key characters are the top corporate executives, public health investigators, and antismoking activists who have clashed ever more stridently as Americans debate whether smoking should be closely regulated as a major health menace. We see tobacco spread rapidly from its aboriginal sources in the New World 500 years ago, as it becomes increasingly viewed by some as sinful and some as alluring, and by government as a windfall source of tax revenue. With the arrival of the cigarette in the late-nineteenth century, smoking changes from a luxury and occasional pastime to an everyday -- to some, indispensable -- habit, aided markedly by the exuberance of the tobacco huskers. This free-enterprise success saga grows shadowed, from the middle of this century, as science begins to understand the cigarette's toxicity. Ironically the more detailed and persuasive the findings by medical investigators, the more cigarette makers prosper by seeming to modify their product with filters and reduced dosages of tar and nicotine. We see the tobacco manufacturers come under intensifying assault as a rogue industry for knowingly and callously plying their hazardous wares while insisting that the health charges against them (a) remain unproven, and (b) are universally understood, so smokers indulge at their own risk. Among the eye-opening disclosures here: outrageous pseudo-scientific claims made for cigarettes throughout the '30s and '40s, and the story of how the tobacco industry and the National Cancer Institute spent millions to develop a "safer" cigarette that was never brought to market. Dealing with an emotional subject that has generated more heat than light, this book is a dispassionate tour de force that examines the nature of the companies' culpability, the complicity of society as a whole, and the shaky moral ground claimed by smokers who are now demanding recompense.
The riveting story of a dramatic confrontation between Native Americans and white settlers, a compelling conflict that unfolded in the newly created Washington Territory from 1853 to 1857. When appointed Washington's first governor, Isaac Ingalls Stevens, an ambitious military man turned politician, had one goal: to persuade (peacefully if possible) the Indians of the Puget Sound region to turn over their ancestral lands to the federal government. In return, they were to be consigned to reservations unsuitable for hunting, fishing, or grazing, their traditional means of sustaining life. The result was an outbreak of violence and rebellion, a tragic episode of frontier oppression and injustice. With his trademark empathy and scholarly acuity, Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Kluger recounts the impact of Stevens's program on the Nisqually tribe, whose chief, Leschi, sparked the native resistance movement. Stevens was determined to succeed at any cost: his hasty treaty negotiations with the Indians, marked by deceit, threat, and misrepresentation, inflamed his opponents. Leschi, resolved to save more than a few patches of his people's lush homelands, unwittingly turned his tribe--and himself most of all--into victims of the governor's relentless wrath. The conflict between these two complicated and driven men--and their supporters--explosively and enormously at odds with each other, was to have echoes far into the future. Closely considered and eloquently written,The Bitter Waters of Medicine Creekis a bold and long-overdue clarification of the historical record of an American tragedy, presenting, through the experiences of one tribe, the history of Native American suffering and injustice.
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning social historian Richard Kluger,Seizing Destinyis a sweeping chronicle of how the vast territory of the United States was assembled to accommodate the aspirations of its people--regardless of who objected. It is a remarkable story of how Americans extended their sovereignty from the Atlantic coastline to the mid-Pacific in the first 125 years of their national existence. America's surge to dominion was equally admirable and appalling. The nation's pioneer generations were, to be sure, blessed with remarkable energy, fortitude, and boundless faith in their own prowess. They were also grasping opportunists, ravenous in their hunger to possess the earth, who justified their often brutal aggression by demeaning the humanity of nonwhites. These visionary nation-builders proclaimed earnestly, if not innocently, their own rectitude to be the force behind the heroic "taming" of the wilderness and saw in this triumph the hand of Providence. Their good fortune was thus transformed into a mission of continental entitlement--their "manifest destiny," as they began calling it well after the process was under way. Yet declaring it did not make it so. As we see, luck and their foes' weaknesses played no less a role. In a compelling drama, vivid with historical detail, we watch three of the most brilliant Founding Fathers--Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and John Adams--outfox British, French, and Spanish diplomats to win more than ample boundaries for their new republic. Finesse, however, had little to do with General Andrew Jackson's Indian-slaughtering and disdain for the Spanish garrison in capturing Florida. Or with Secretary of State John Quincy Adams's bluff and bluster in gaining for the nation a northwest passage to the Pacific. Or with how the singleminded James Polk, devious and manipulative, confected a war with Mexico and thereby amassed more land than any other U. S. President. We learn why the nation's most famous acquisition, France's Louisiana Territory, had little to do with Thomas Jefferson's foresight and everything to do with Napoleon's failure to subdue black freedom fighters in the jungles of Haiti. Sam Houston tried vainly to prevent the predictably suicidal defense of the Alamo before he could rally rowdy Texans to win their independence. William Seward, in just one week, overcame political disrepute and convinced a hostile Senate to approve his secret deal with Russia to buy seemingly useless Alaska. And Teddy Roosevelt connived with the Panamanians to win land for the canal that so enhanced America's economic dominance. Comprehensive and balanced,Seizing Destinyis a stunning reinterpretation of American history, revealing great accomplishments along with the American tendency to confuse success with heaven-sent entitlement.
Simple Justice is the definitive history of the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education and the epic struggle for racial equality in this country. Combining intensive research with original interviews with surviving participants, Richard Kluger provides the fullest possible view of the human and legal drama in the years before 1954, the cumulative assaults on the white power structure that defended segregation, and the step-by-step establishment of a team of inspired black lawyers that could successfully challenge the law. Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of the unanimous Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation, Kluger has updated his work with a new final chapter covering events and issues that have arisen since the book was first published, including developments in civil rights and recent cases involving affirmative action, which rose directly out of Brown v. Board of Education.From the Trade Paperback edition.