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Posted September. 16, 2006 03:50,   


A tough cowboy smoking on a horse, the “Marlboro man.” He has swayed advertisement circles in the U.S. for 50 years, throwing one single message: “Smokers are cool.”

Currently the smoking population around the world is about 1.3 billion. No other favorite food consumed through human mouths and noses is as popular as cigarettes are. Today, however, cigarettes have come to be accepted as the symbol of poverty, the cause of illnesses and death. In a highway in Chicago, 2006, an ad board stands with a picture of a smoking monkey on it, reading, “Let me be straight. Bad breath, phlegm clots, cancer … I’m ashamed I`m a smoker.”

This book is recommendable for smokers with heartburns. This book approaches the changes the view on the act of smoking has undergone in different periods, environments, races, literature and arts. It also traces how the cigarette leaves originally used by the natives in the American continent for medical or ceremonial purposes were spread throughout the world after the disclosure of the new continent by Columbus. Readers can also see in a view the history of how cigarettes conquered the world and declined, including the social implication of them in different countries.

Heavy smokers will be delighted to know the fact that smoking used to be the symbol of medical treatment in 16th Century Britain. In 1586 the British scientist Thomas Harriot described cigarettes as “The holy smoke that purifies the malice in the stomach and intestines and contaminated body fluids and protects the bodies.”

The 33 writers who are experts in the history of arts, anthropology, music and films tell interesting stories about smoking in art. Sherlock Holmes’ pipe adds authority and carefulness to his power of reasoning, and pop art visualized youth and defiance with the image if James Dean and Marlon Brando lighting up their cigarettes. Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) who is thought to be the most successful of smokers on the silver screen used the image of cigarettes with her figure and gave the male audience around the world voyeuristic pleasure.

One thing pleasing is that this book includes the story of smoking in Korea which was not included in the English original. It introduces “Book of Smoking” by a writer in the late Joseon Dynasty, the first book about smoking in Korea. It also shows the culture in late Joseon Dynasty where smoking was enjoyed by all ages and sexes.

Reading this book even makes a reader feel like encouraging smokers to a certain degree.

“When the smoke coming out at the tip of my cigarette and the ink from my pen nib flow with the same comfort, then my writing is in Arcadia (a literary movement that called for breaking down the foppery in the Baroque literature and recovering nature),” wrote Walter Benjamin (1892-1940• a German culture critic). The original title of the book is ‘A Global History of Smoking’ (2006).