Nan Enstad’s Cigarettes, Inc. debunks several capitalist fables about the tobacco industry but also corporate history as a whole. One of these myths poses J. B. Duke as a risk- taking innovator—a “bold entrepreneur”—who used the cigarette- making machine to revolutionize the tobacco industry. This myth has been repeated even in histories critical of the tobacco industry (275n10). It was created, Enstad reveals, by mid- twentieth- century business historians to support Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of “creative destruction.” In contrast, Enstad shows that Duke’s success was a result not of innovation but, rather, of evading state regulation. Duke was involved in merging the five largest tobacco companies into the American Tobacco Company (ATC), with the aim of controlling the Bon-sack cigarette- making machine in foreign markets. The ATC started with a different president—Lewis Ginter, “the first to develop the mass- produced bright leaf cigarette, and the first to market it...
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Book Review| September 01 2020
Cigarettes, Inc.: An Intimate History of Corporate Imperialism by Nan Enstad
Cigarettes, Inc.: An Intimate History of Corporate Imperialism. Enstad, Nan.
University of Chicago Press,
2018. xiii + 336 pp., $25.00 (paper); $75.00 (cloth); $10.00 to $25.00 (e-book)
Labor (2020) 17 (3): 131–133.
Eli Meyerhoff; Cigarettes, Inc.: An Intimate History of Corporate Imperialism by Nan Enstad. Labor 1 September 2020; 17 (3): 131–133. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-8349525
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