McKinstry is thorough and scrupulously fair. Unlike too many historians today, he goes in with no axes to grind. He simply tells the story, backed by a voluminous bibliography, extensive research and private correspondence. In scope and balance, the book reminds us of Arthur Herman’s Gandhi and Churchill—another elegant account of two contentious figures. Like Herman, McKinstry captures Churchill’s generosity of spirit, and his rival’s greatness of soul.
The earliest cigarette cards trace their origins to the Crimean War of 1853-56, when smoking rose to the heights of popularity. Originally, cards were plain stiffeners in the cigarette packs. With advances in printing and lithography, it did not take long for the tobacco companies to recognize the marketing potential of illustrated cards.