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For Your Own Good - Jacob Sullum
Mixed feelings about this book.
Though it was an excellent summary of the history of tobacco, and the history of the ANTI tobacco movement, I feel it fell short of the subtitle.
In fairness, the author is a journalist, not a medical practitioner or a formal researcher. You might think that “tobacco is bad” is straightforward fact, but in reality it’s far more nuanced. It would be out of place for a journalist to be too heavily on one side or the other, so he did a great job at maintaining balance.
He also did examine most of the political issues here. The case for tobacco CONTROL is not as much about health as it is about human control, and he definitely laid that case out well.
But TYRANNY is a strong word. This book was published in 1998, and the warnings from that time are definitely completely evident today, where we have actual full-blown medical tyranny, and dictator-like control forced on us “for our own good.”
My main contention is that I am not sure who exactly this book is for. He stood up for smokers, but he is not one, and he discussed medical tyranny without discussing the details of the science involved.
Out of the growing pile of smoking books I have read, I appreciate those written by medical practitioners or researchers the most, because they can stand behind their analysis professionally, whereas a journalist doesn’t have that specialized authority.
I do think that both smokers and anti smokers should be much more educated on the intricacies involved in the politics here, and maybe this book is a good place to start. On my website (link in bio/reviews/smoking) I have covered several smoking books now. You should pick at least one. This issue is hardly relevant only to smokers. CONTROL over our bodies, our information, and our freedom is the bigger issue.
I know it’s not good form to plug myself into a review here, but since I haven’t really given any of these books a full good or bad review, I must vow to write my own, summarizing the issues and also detailing the nuances in the health and political cases. Many people ask me about this topic, and unfortunately I can’t strongly recommend any existing book for a FULL discussion.