I picked up a few tobacco and pipe books from Project Gutenberg as EBooks that I am reading on my iPad. The first of these is a fascinating read. It is written in a very modern and readable style that belies the fact that it came out in 1915. It is called Tobacco Leaves – Being a Book of Facts for Smokers – W.A. Brennan 1915. Brennan’s states his purpose in the paragraph’s below copied from the introduction to the book.
“This little book is intended for the man who uses tobacco. While there is a very extensive literature concerning tobacco, yet it is surprising how few books there are written expressly for the smoker. Much has been written concerning culture, production and manufacture; the historical and anecdotal aspects have been catered for; pamphlets and books abusing and denouncing the use of tobacco are plentiful; but the smoker will find it difficult to get a book just giving him the facts concerning tobacco and smoking, which he ought to know, and omitting matters, which, although interesting, are not necessary. This little book is an attempt to fulfill that purpose; and it is felt that no apology is needed for its appearance. (My emphasis) If the average user of tobacco is questioned concerning the matters treated in the following pages, he will be found ignorant of them. This ought not be so. The custom of tobacco smoking is so general and so intimate a part of the daily life of the great majority of men that a better acquaintance with the plant, its qualities, uses and effects should be cultivated and welcomed.
No claim is made for originality. The facts here stated have been gathered from various sources and the only credit claimed is for putting them together in a concise and consecutive form. The object aimed at is to give information. Whether the custom of tobacco smoking is desirable, whether in any individual case it would be beneficial or otherwise to smoke—these and similar questions are left to the reader’s own judgment from the facts and opinions presented, as well as from his own observations. The man who uses tobacco daily should know what he is doing. If statements are made either verbally or in print concerning the custom he should be able to verify them or show that they are incorrect. It is trusted that the information given in these pages will enable him to form a clear judgment whatever the judgment may be.
It may be felt that many aspects of the use of tobacco and matters connected with it have either not been touched on, or only referred to very briefly. The reader who may desire further information will find it in the bibliographical references given throughout the book. These references have generally been consulted by the author and his indebtedness is acknowledged here.” Tobacco Leaves – W.A. Brennan, page 5.
I have divided the book into three parts for ease of reference for me as I write this review and as a way to classify the material found in each part of the book. What I have labeled as Part 1 covers all of the material regarding cultivation, production, processing and sales of the product. Brennan begins the book with a short history of tobacco and its place in the botanical world as he calls it (Chapter 1). From there he covers cultivation, production and curing of tobacco both in the US and in Europe. He talks in a clear and non-confusing way about the chemical composition of tobacco (Chapters 2-6). All of this material serves as a backdrop to the marketing, manufacture and processing of tobacco into the products that smokers imbibe (Chapters 7-9).
Part 2 (Chapters 10-16) looks at the various tobacco products available and talks about their history, manufacture and use. It is this section that covers the products that are manufactured from the processed tobacco. He covers cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, cigarettes and snuff. Each chapter gives the details in production and use of the product. I found the material interesting to read and also very informative. I learned things about each product that was new information to me. He begins three chapters on cigars. He is not as concerned with various brands that are available but is looking at the historical and general facts about cigars, their quality and their making (Chapters 10-12). He combines the chapter on Pipe smoking and chewing tobacco into a brief and concise description of preparation of the tobacco and the products themselves. He covers such topics as Qualities required–Description of kinds–Perique tobacco—and Statistics (Chapter 13). He gives a brief description of cigarettes and their manufacture and use as well as domestic and imported brands (Chapter 14). Chapter 15 is a very good description of the use of snuff and it making. He concludes the part of the book I call Part 2 with a brief discourse on Tobacco pipes. I found this chapter interesting even though there was no new information. I enjoyed his way of talking about the subject. He gives a brief history of pipes and how they are made as well as the materials used in making. He speaks of Meerschaum, briar, and the materials used for the stems. He gives a brief discourse on special kinds of pipes and ends the chapter with a few pointers on the care of pipes (Chapter 16).
Part 3 (Chapters 17-19) develops several chapters on the effects and benefits of tobacco us. Chapter 17 is a brief chapter on the physical effects of tobacco smoking on the human system and gives medical opinions on tobacco use and discusses the merit of the opinions. Chapter 18 discusses the beneficial effects of tobacco. This section is one that never would have been printed in today’s politically correct climate. He speaks of the disinfecting action of tobacco as protection against infectious disease and ends this chapter with an interesting piece on the psychological effects of smoking. Chapter 19 concludes the book with topics that really do not fit anywhere else within the scope of the book but are interesting nonetheless. These cover such topics as revenue, taxation, etc., in connection with tobacco, the insect pests which attack tobacco and tobacco flavoring fluids, etc.
The book is very readable and the style is fresh and enjoyable. The author has met the objectives that he spelled out in his purpose statement early in the book. I heartily recommend this book to fellow pipemen. I don’t know about you but there is always something to learn or be refreshed on in the arena of our pipes and tobaccos.
I have included a short version of the table of contents for you to have a look at. It will show you the flow and development of the book over the course of the pages.
Chapter 1 – Historical and Botanical
Chapter 2 – The Cultivation of the Tobacco Plant
Chapter 3 – Production of Tobacco
Chapter 4 – Production of Tobacco in the United States
Chapter 5 – The Chemical Composition of Tobacco
Chapter 6 – The Curing of Tobacco Leaf
Chapter 7 – The Marketing and Sale of Tobacco Leaf
Chapter 8 – Rehandling and Fermentation of Tobacco Leaf Prior to Manufacture
Chapter 9 – Manufactured Products of Tobacco in the United States
Chapter 10 – Cigars: Historical and General Facts
Chapter 11 – Cigars and Their Qualities
Chapter 12 – Cigar Making
Chapter 13 – Pipe Smoking and Chewing Tobacco
Chapter 14 – Cigarettes
Chapter 15 – Snuff
Chapter 16 – Tobacco Smoking Pipes
Chapter 17 – Effects of Tobacco Smoking on the Human System
Chapter 18 – The Beneficial Effects of Tobacco
Chapter 19 – Miscellaneous
The book is available as a free e-book from the Gutenberg Project. It can be downloaded in a format the works on iPads or Kindles etc. It is also available in PDF format or can be read online. Here is the link: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/37388