This is comedian John Safran’s third book. The first one, Murder In Mississippi, had John investigating the murder of a white supremacist whom he had annoyed while filming his TV series Race Relations.
The second, Depends What You Mean By Extremist, was about racist groups in Australia. He turned up at rallies and took notes.
Both books, despite the serious themes, were very funny, written in Safran’s deadpan style of humour. Really, he didn’t have to do much. The racists in both books opened their mouths and made themselves look ridiculous.
This book does have humour in it, though not the laugh-out-loud kind, but despite the author telling interviewers he hoped people would enjoy it, it feels, to me, at least, that the author is truly angry. He doesn’t mention a personal reason for this, no relatives who have died of cancer, but - angry.
This anger is directed at Big Tobacco, specifically Philip Morris. See, Philip Morris has a new product called a Heat Stick. A Heat Stick is supposed to be less bad for you than regular smoking but is, in fact, indistinguishable from a cigarette.
It is competing with vaping - and John interviewed quite a few people selling vaping products in the course of the book. He also attended a vaping conference where he picked up samples. I don’t think he actually smokes, but he became hooked on nicotine toothpicks and tried out a lot of items he picked up there, over the course of the book.
He bought some shares in Philip Morris so he could attend a shareholders’ meeting to ask questions(they wouldn’t let him into their premises when they found out he was doing a book), but when he attended the Zoom meeting, he didn’t get a chance to ask his question.
He discovered in his investigations that a lot of health organisations had been given money by Philip Morris - in fact, he found out, to his horror, that his superannuation investments included a company that had Philip Morris lurking in their background.
It seems to be almost impossible to avoid the tentacles of Big Tobacco. I’ll have to check out my super fund, though we were assured at a seminar that they only invest in ethical companies.
One thing I have to say for John Safran is that he is very good and thorough at doing his research, both in his other books and this one. It’s a real eye-opener. I don’t think he could have done this as a TV comedy show.
Definitely worth a read, as long as you don’t expect it to be hilarious. There isn’t a bibliography or list of suggested web sites at the end, but there is enough information there for you to do your own looking up.
I bought my copy at Apple Books, but you should be able to get it at your local good bookstore or on line, though.