How and when did Russia become a country of smokers? Why did makhorka and papirosy become ubiquitous products of tobacco consumption? Tricia Starks explores these themes as well as the connections between tobacco, gender, and empire in her latest monograph, Smoking Under the Tsars: A History of Tobacco in Imperial Russia
(Cornell University Press, 2018). Starks illustrates how tobacco influenced facets of life, politics, morality, and culture in the 19th century from the perspectives of tobacco users, producers, and objectors. The book includes full-color ads for tobacco and papirosy cigarettes that add to the book’s rich prose. From Tolstoy’s anti-tobacco screed to the “Tobacco Queens” of St. Petersburg, Starks uses primary sources to craft an edifying narrative of the history of tobacco and tobacco consumption in the imperial period.
is Professor of History at the University of Arkansas. Her research interests include Russian and Soviet history, public health and the history of medicine, as well as culture and gender.
Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon is a History Instructor at Lee College.