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A Few Good Books

Cigar Aficionado Rates Three Cigar Guides
Michael Frank
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95

(continued from page 2)

Underneath an illustration of a tobacco leaf on the page facing the foreword is a note stating that most of the photographs in The Ultimate Cigar Book were shot by the author. To the author's credit, the images in the book are adequate, but they could be improved. That said, Hacker's words hold up a bit better.

One of the best things about The Ultimate Cigar Book is the research and review of non-Havana cigars. Hacker describes production outside of Cuba, and this information is very valuable to the American reader. Direct, concise prose is used to describe the cigar-making process, and Hacker doesn't miss a beat when describing various brands in the section entitled, "International Compendium of Cigar Brands," although it is easy to tell which cigars are his favorites. Nonetheless, Hacker doesn't shy away from including even the most obscure brands, even those made by machine--such as Phillies.

The author also makes a few ill-advised generalizations, such as the statement that a lighter shade wrapper will indicate a milder-tasting cigar, and that if the major veins of a cigar run parallel to the length of the cigar, it will draw smoothly. In each of these cases, Hacker is asking the reader to judge a book by its cover, or the draw or taste of a cigar by its outward content. It is impossible to determine draw by appearance alone, just as it is impossible to judge taste.

There are other mistakes in The Ultimate Cigar Book, including a very quirky chapter on celebrity cigar smokers. This guide works best when the author has something specific to explain, such as the making of a cigar. However, when Hacker begins to recount personal history, the book is of less utility to the reader.

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