Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization

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Open Road + Grove/Atlantic, Dec 1, 2007 - History - 416 pages
“A rich, complex history . . . Deeply engaging and witty” (Los Angeles Times).
 
Long before Columbus arrived in the New Word, tobacco was cultivated and enjoyed by the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas, who used it for medicinal, religious, and social purposes. But when Europeans began to colonize the American continents, it became something else entirely—a cultural touchstone of pleasure and success, and a coveted commodity that would transform the world economy forever.
 
Iain Gately’s Tobacco tells the epic story of an unusual plant and its unique relationship with the history of humanity, from its obscure ancient beginnings, through its rise to global prominence, to its current embattled state today. In a lively narrative, Gately makes the case for the tobacco trade being the driving force behind the growth of the American colonies, the foundation of Dutch trading empire, the underpinning cause of the African slave trade, and the financial basis for victory in the American Revolution. Well-researched and wide-ranging, Tobacco is a vivid and provocative look at the surprising roles this plant has played in the culture of the world.
 
“Ambitious . . . informative and perceptive . . . Gately is an amusing writer, which is a blessing.” —The Washington Post
 
“Documents the resourcefulness with which human beings of every class, religion, race, and continent have pursued the lethal leaf.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
 

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Contents

To Breathe is to Inhale
1
Confrontation
20
Transmission
37
Bewitched
65
Middlemen and Foreign Bottoms
88
Magic Dust
110
Come the Revolution
127
Bandoleros Scum and Dandies
145
Verboten
253
The Spy who Loved Me
269
Tumours
285
Blowing Bubbles
306
Man and Superman
326
Hunde Wolt Ihr Ewig Leben?
345
Appendix One How to Grow Tobacco
363
Notes
370

The American Preference
164
A Class is Born
185
Automatic for the People
204
Of Cats and Camels
219
Stars
237
Further Reading
385
Index
388
Picture Credits 404
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Iain Gately is the author of the novel The Assessor.

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