"You’ll inhale this tell-all book about the tobacco industry and never look at a No Smoking sign the same way again!" —Margaret Atwood, via Twitter Mad Men meets Bad Blood in this addictive, behind-the-scenes globe-trotting narrative of moral ambiguity, law, public policy, and big tobacco. “Given everything the lawyer knew up to that point about smoking, as far as he could tell, cigarettes shouldn’t even have been available as a mass market product...” It’s the start of the new millennium and a young lawyer is recruited to work for an unnamed multinational company. It isn’t until his second interview that the product the company produces is revealed to him: cigarettes. Possibly the most controversial consumer product in human history: seductive, addictive, and deadly—yet completely legal. Over the next decade, he travels the world as he works as legal counsel to help successfully market cigarettes in dozens of countries.
Firebrand ventures into the heart of the tobacco industry and the icy paradoxes of capitalism, each chapter a counterintuitive lesson on how cigarette companies—the target of increasingly intense anti-smoking campaigns and government regulations, including the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report and 200-billion-dollar debt of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement—continue to pivot and thrive in the 21st century, inhaling profits from their one billion smokers worldwide.
As Mad Men did for the alcohol-fueled, oversexed, corrupt world of New York advertising, Firebrand does for the even more despised world of big tobacco, in an addictive, behind-the-scenes piece of storytelling. The lawyer’s work takes him from manufacturing factories to hocking “sticks” at UK corner store counters; from tacky resorts in Spain and pirate city-states to luxury hotels and Grand Prix events across European and Asian cities. A contemporary tale of our ambiguous times, told with character-based drive and dry humour, Firebrand is a grand tour of the compelling paradoxes of globalization and corporate culture, shrink-wrapped in an engrossing narrative of a morally dubious yet completely legal enterprise. “This is storytelling at its best. Wry observation, compelling narrative, fascinating characters, page-turning writing, and an age-old question driving it all...” —Joel Bakan, author ofThe New Corporation: How ‘Good’ Corporations are Bad for Democracy