This was the first book assigned for my doctoral track. Huff’s history is actually really messy, I know I’ve posted about it here before.
Basically, he was the Tobacco industry’s biggest, most reliable (with charts!) statistics shill, and he was a big part of the reason Congress took so long to act regarding the (at the time) science illustrating smoking’s health risks. He would testify in Congress on behalf of Big Tobacco, in opposition of the growing consensus that smoking does, in fact, kill lots of people.
He was set to publish a sequel of sorts, a new book specifically defending Big Tobacco with fancy charts, when he realized he would be on the wrong side of history and cancelled the project, right about the time the Surgeon General’s report changed things, leading to warnings on boxes.
So he milked that cow quite a bit, but somehow ended up coming back into the light, or at least not continuing to promote death. Finally, the scientists won out over the enemy’s chief statistician, which is a poignant way of re-visiting his first book. He was being literal, he was a really good and awful liar.