Official Review: Enemy No. 1 by James L. Repace

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gen_g
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Official Review: Enemy No. 1 by James L. Repace

Post by gen_g »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Enemy No. 1" by James L. Repace.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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I have always taken smoke-free aircraft and smoke-free indoor spaces for granted. However, reading James L. Repace’s Enemy No. 1: Waging the War on Secondhand Smoke made me realise that there has been fights for the right to clean indoor air, which I had previously been unaware of. In fact, only until very recently, indoor smoking was unregulated, i.e., non-smokers had to put up with the smoke, even if they had allergies or medical conditions that were aggravated by it. In this book, Repace tells of his tough but rewarding journey towards getting the American government and large tobacco companies to recognise and acknowledge the bodily harm caused to non-smokers by secondhand smoke.

Weighing in at a whopping 1000 pages, this book is definitely not for the faint of heart. Repace has engaged in comprehensive, extensive, and groundbreaking research on the effects of secondhand smoke, and he has woven this research into the fabric of his autobiographical narrative to allow us, the readers, to better understand how we are able to enjoy clean air today.

What I appreciate most about this book is Repace’s enthusiasm for his topic of choice; his motivation and excitement come through most clearly when he tells stories about how he overcame the obstacles set in his path by large tobacco companies. These companies had sought to shut down his research, due to the threat to their profits if it were established that secondhand smoke was harmful and could cause cancer.

In addition, Repace has also peppered his book with little anecdotes about his everyday life as a scientist: once, due to his imbibing of alcohol, he used the wrong solvent in the lab, nearly causing a large-scale accident. Whilst portrayed in a humourous way, it also contained an important lesson on lab safety. In this sense, it also helped me to understand what Repace is like as an individual and to relate to him better.

However, the book still has its shortcomings. Marketed as an “understandable encyclopaedic narrative for the professionally trained scientist, the ecologically minded individual, and the long-suffering layperson”, it is my opinion that Repace has bitten off more than he can chew. In other words, Repace should have simply focused on one target audience (out of the three mentioned) and geared his narrative to better appeal to that chosen group.

What I mean by this is that with Repace’s attempt to cater to these vastly different target audiences in a single book, Enemy No. 1: Waging the War on Secondhand Smoke inevitably loses much of its focus and organisation. To illustrate, for the “professionally trained scientist”, the book does not contain enough scientific evidence (e.g., citations and experiment results) to prove the research claims, since Repace has to pare down the science portion in order for the “long-suffering layperson” to maintain his/her interest in the book. Conversely, for the “long-suffering layperson”, there remains a massive amount of scientific jargon and various scientific hypotheses, which would certainly be difficult for someone with no prior knowledge of research methodologies to comprehend.

Subsequently, if Repace would like his book to be more accessible by the general public, I would suggest that he either hires an editor to reorganise his book after deciding on the target audience, or he can release two versions: one for the scientists and one for the general public.

There are also a couple of minor grammar and punctuation errors, such as missing hyphens and wrongly inserted commas, but these did not take away much from the reading flow. Therefore, I rate James L. Repace’s Enemy No. 1: Waging the War on Secondhand Smoke 2 out of 4 stars, which is mainly because of the serious lack of streamlining that unavoidably comes with trying to cater to different target groups. Nonetheless, this is not to say that Repace’s book is without potential; this potential is only unrealised. In the book’s current form, I am only able to recommend it to people who are immensely interested in the tobacco industry and the history of the war waged for the right to clean indoor air.

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Enemy No. 1
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Post by Niski »

This is an interesting topic - but I'm not sure I would spend the time to read through all 1000 pages on it! I hope the author takes your advice to make it more streamlined.
I really enjoyed your review - thanks so much!

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Post by gen_g »

Niski wrote: ↑
23 May 2019, 02:34
This is an interesting topic - but I'm not sure I would spend the time to read through all 1000 pages on it! I hope the author takes your advice to make it more streamlined.
I really enjoyed your review - thanks so much!
It was interesting indeed, but I'd have to agree with you that reading it definitely takes a really long time! Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it. (:

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Post by Bianka Walter »

Kudos on picking this one - I would never have risen to the challenge of a thousand-page book on ANY topic. Die-hard reviewer gen_g at your service.
Your review is amazing - as always :)
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Post by gen_g »

Bianka Walter wrote: ↑
23 May 2019, 04:13
Kudos on picking this one - I would never have risen to the challenge of a thousand-page book on ANY topic. Die-hard reviewer gen_g at your service.
Your review is amazing - as always :)
LOL! Well, to be honest, the page count was a surprise when I opened the file, since I thought it was about 300+ when I picked it up! Well, at least I know to check now. :lol2: Breaks were certainly often and many in between! Thanks for stopping by, Bianka – I always appreciate it. (:

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Post by Rachel Lea »

Wow, 1000 pages... Great job sticking around to the end! This sounds like a very informative and well-researched book, although I agree with you that targeting one audience in particular instead of three would have probably been a wiser decision. Thank you for your thorough review!
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies... The man who never reads lives only one." -- George R.R. Martin :techie-studyingbrown:

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Post by Bluebird03 »

I can imagine that taking on the tobacco industry must have been an uphill battle. You made a great point about possibly reworking this very lengthy book into two different ones- to accommodate the different target audiences. Great review!

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Post by gen_g »

Rachel Lea wrote: ↑
23 May 2019, 06:49
Wow, 1000 pages... Great job sticking around to the end! This sounds like a very informative and well-researched book, although I agree with you that targeting one audience in particular instead of three would have probably been a wiser decision. Thank you for your thorough review!
The attempt to target 3 audiences unfortunately resulted in the large page count, I'm afraid. It was a long read, but an informative one still. Thank you for stopping by! (:

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Post by gen_g »

Bluebird03 wrote: ↑
23 May 2019, 09:28
I can imagine that taking on the tobacco industry must have been an uphill battle. You made a great point about possibly reworking this very lengthy book into two different ones- to accommodate the different target audiences. Great review!
It certainly was an uphill battle, and it seems like not enough attention is given to this issue because we usually take it for granted. Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it! (:

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Post by unamilagra »

Yikes, 1000 pages! I can't imagine having that much to say on this topic, which admittedly does sound interesting. I agree, he should probably publish two separate books, each half the size (or less!) aimed at each target audience. Great review!

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Post by gen_g »

unamilagra wrote: ↑
23 May 2019, 13:01
Yikes, 1000 pages! I can't imagine having that much to say on this topic, which admittedly does sound interesting. I agree, he should probably publish two separate books, each half the size (or less!) aimed at each target audience. Great review!
It was certainly interesting, just very long! Thanks for stopping by!

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Post by TuyetMai »

Thank you for the insightful review. I'll skip this book due to the sheer volume even though it's about a topic that I'm interested in.

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Post by Uinto »

I like the topic of discussion which centers around secondhand smoke. This is because this is a potential killer for innocent people. Thanks for the review.

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Post by gen_g »

TuyetMai wrote: ↑
23 May 2019, 23:02
Thank you for the insightful review. I'll skip this book due to the sheer volume even though it's about a topic that I'm interested in.
Thank you for stopping by nonetheless, I appreciate it!

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Post by gen_g »

Uinto wrote: ↑
24 May 2019, 06:13
I like the topic of discussion which centers around secondhand smoke. This is because this is a potential killer for innocent people. Thanks for the review.
Indeed, I think that this is an issue that would benefit from more societal awareness. Thank you for the comment!

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