Human beings have always smoked, and they probably always will. Every culture in recorded history has smoked something, whether as a cure or for pleasure, whether as part of a ritual or as an aspect of popular culture. It is curious, then, that no history of smoking has been written based on the assumption that smoking; in all of its forms and products; is a cultural phenomenon common to all human societies.
Smoke : A Global History of Smoking examines the culture of smoking in different traditions and locations around the world. From opium dens in Victorian England to tobacco in Edo period Japan, and from ganja and cocaine to Havana cigars, Smoke encompasses the subject as no book has before.
Based in cultural history, it employs a large number of images as part of its evidence : around 300 illustrations document smoking and smokers of many substances including tobacco, scented cigarettes, marijuana, opium and cocaine. The various essays examine the changing role of smoking in high and popular culture, ranging from images used in advertising to the legal and moral critiques of smoking, and from opera to the internet. Smoke will appeal to all those who smoke, all those who used to smoke, and all those who have tried, and failed, to give it up.
About the Authors
Sander L. Gilman is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA. A cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of over sixty books, including Health and Illness : Images of Difference (Reaktion Books, 1996), and Franz Kafka (Reaktion Books, 2005).
Zhou Xun is ESRC Research Fellow in the History Department at SOAS, University of London, and the author of Chinese Perceptions of the 'Jews' and Judaism : A History of the Youtai (2000)
This ... fascinating book has opened my eyes... -- Beryl Bainbridge The Times As with the best histories Smoke paints a vivid picture of times past into which smoking itself is just a lure. Glasgow Herald Smoke has many splendid and absorbing illustrations - pictures on nearly every page that range from smoking film stars, early advertising posters and ornate carved pipes, to beautiful full-colour reproductions of Western and Oriental art Sunday Telegraph There is ... an undeniable pleasure to be taken in Smoke's copious visual material -- Jonathan Meades London Evening Standard A remarkable collection of over 30 essays ... it is beautifully produced and profusely illustrated ... It is a real pleasure to recommend a book of true anthropological range and seriousness, conjuring, like the perfect smoke ring, the history of a universal human practice at a time when the issues raised ... are at the forefront of current world-wide debates on health policy and social safety. British Medical Journal