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Cigar Style

Gregory Mottola
Posted: June 4, 2008

Cigar Style isn't big enough to be a coffee table book, nor thick enough to be a reference tome, nor small enough to be a pocket guide. So what did Nick Foulkes mean to accomplish when putting together this project?

Cigar Style (Assouline Publishing, $18.95) opens with 12 pictureless pages of brief historical and cultural information concerning the cigar. The rest is a sort of scrapbook, depicting various aspects of the cigar's place in modern culture.

The very first photo, for example, is one of the Cohiba Behike, billed as the most expensive cigar in the world. The next, a shot of Ringo Starr and George Harrison puffing gleefully at the dinner table. From those pages on, you will encounter celebrities, cigars, tobacco, art and historical figures shot with an intimacy that might make you contemplate each photo rather than just immediately flip to the next page.

True, a lot of the personalities in the book (such as John F. Kennedy and Che Guevara) are the usual cigar-smoking icons, but others (Faye Dunaway and Pablo Picasso) will take you very much by surprise.

There is no chronology from page to page and that is what makes it interesting. Pictures can jump from Orson Welles to Tim Ozgener (president of cigarmaker C.A.O. International Inc.,) and then lead to more cigar symbols such as the legendary Partagas Factory in Havana or cigar art by Joseph H. Sulkowski. A small timeline towards the end offers some curious cigar facts. In 1603, for example, the Cuban government decreed the sale of tobacco to foreigners punishable by death.

So Cigar Style is not a textbook, nor is it an educational guide in the conventional sense. It is simply a smoking companion that will make you want to light up a cigar as soon as you open the book, if you were not smoking one already.

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