Jordan Goodman explores the historical transformation of tobacco from Amerindian shamanism to global capitalism, from the food of the spirits to the fatal epidemic, from the rough pipe and cigar to the modern-day cigarette. This scholarly and comprehensive survey combines up-to-date published work with primary research to provide a systematic way of understanding current debates from a historical perspective. Goodman draws on a wide range of disciplines to present a history that explores larger themes, such as colonialism, consumerism, medical discourse and multinational enterprise. The book reveals the complex web of dependence and relationships surrounding this controversial commodity.

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