A Family History of Smoking is a wonderfully compelling memoir about two European Jewish families living through the last gasps of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Andrew Riemer begins his memoir with the story of his great-grandfather David, an inveterate cigar smoker, and his family's journey to becoming cosmopolitan Europeans thanks to the multicultural ideals of the Austro-Hungarian world. It follows the cruel disappointment of those dreams and ideals when a sense of Jewishness was forced on them and turned into the source of their persecution in the first half of the twentieth century.""A Family History of Smoking"" is a humorous, engrossing account of family life. It is also a moving, beautifully written portrait of a world that literally went up in smoke.
Andrew Riemer is the chief literary critic for The Sydney Morning Herald. His books include Inside Outside and Sandstone Gothic, The Habsburg Cafe and Hughes, his biography of art critic Robert Hughes. He taught at Sydney University for many years.