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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.
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