BOOKS: A LONG WAY, BABY

ASHES TO ASHES, AN EPIC HISTORY OF THE CIGARETTE INDUSTRY, TELLS A TALE OF INGENUITY, DECEPTION, AMUSING TRIVIA AND DISEASE

These days hardly a week goes by without a news flash involving the tobacco industry. High-stakes lawsuits, whistleblowers, wily marketing men, political palm greasing, intimations of perjury, perfidy and double-dealing--the story has got it all. But lost in the hurly-burly of breaking news is a sense of historical perspective: the tale of the cigarette has, in fact, always had it all.

That long view has now been provided by the cartonload in Ashes to Ashes (Knopf; 807 pages; $35), Richard Kluger's monumental history of the cigarette, ambitiously subtitled America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip...

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