cover image The Perfect Pipe

The Perfect Pipe

H. Paul Jeffers. Burford Books, $27.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-58080-065-5

Pipe smokers will probably find this fetchingly illustrated compendium irresistible, but readers not sold on the joys of tobacco may feel there is too much rhapsodizing about pipe lore and not enough detailed social history. Jeffers (The Good Cigar) bolsters his thesis that pipe smoking has remained an especially American phenomenon for decades with a portrait gallery of famous pipe enthusiasts--from Benjamin Franklin and Davy Crockett to Emerson, Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell, Einstein, Robert Frost, Norman Rockwell, Edward Teller, Neil Armstrong and George Bush. Decked out with engravings, paintings, sketches and photographs, and enlivened by nostalgic songs, ballads, ditties and memorabilia, his survey ranges from ancient Celts' smoking of aromatic herbs in iron pipes to pipe-related organizations on the Internet. At one point, Jeffers asserts that cigarette smoking doesn't cause the high incidence of cancer and other diseases attributed to it by the ""health police,"" as he calls antismoking activists. This renders somewhat suspect his familiar argument that pipes pose greatly reduced health risks in comparison with cigarettes. But his thorough look at how to smoke pipes, the design and making of pipes, , pipe care and gadgetry, reliable vendors and convention-defying pipe-smoking women will be edifying to anyone with a penchant for the occasional puff. For an introduction to Cuban cigars, see Cubans by William P. Mara (noted below). 100 b&w illustrations and 8 pages of color photos. Agent, Jake Elwell. (Oct.)