PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Surgeon General's "Smoking and Health" report from 1964 didn't do it. The $206 billion Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement from the 1990s didn't do it. Hundreds of successful lawsuits by dying victims didn't do it.
It took fictional character Martin Muntor – the cult hero of Frank Freudberg's new novel Find Virgil – to figure out how to get Big Tobacco's attention and slash its profits.
"Muntor," says author Frank Freudberg, "is a journalist dying of lung cancer from second-hand smoke. He's mad, and he's hell-bent on getting revenge against cigarette companies while he still can. He formulates an ingenious plan to put the firms out of business and he doesn't care how many people have to die in order to make it happen."
That's fiction. But in reality, the U.S. Surgeon General, an array of anti-tobacco organizations, and increasingly restrictive laws all failed to outmaneuver the well-funded and sophisticated legal, marketing and PR strategies of Big Tobacco.
"A 2013 Centers for Disease Control report proves that profits prevail and Big Tobacco's deadly legacy still reigns supreme," says Freudberg. "The report states that cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States, cigarette smoking is estimated to cause more than 440,000 deaths annually, and life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers."
In the mid-1990s Freudberg followed Congressional hearings focused on the tobacco industry. He says he was fascinated by the way tobacco company CEOs arrogantly and fearlessly tried to deceive Congress.
"Under oath," says Freudberg, "the CEOs swore they had no prior knowledge of the dangers of tobacco smoke. Their lies were rejected, and one result was the costly tobacco industry settlement with the attorneys general of 46 states. It's true Big Tobacco lost that battle, but ever since, they've been winning the war and laughing all the way to the bank. Martin Muntor invented a way to level the playing field. Find Virgil is definitely a David vs. Goliath story – and this time Big Tobacco won't think it's so funny."
Praise for Freudberg's previous work
"...Freudberg's characters have a single-minded way of hammering away at their goals until they either self-destruct or get what they want." -- Boston Herald
"...will keep readers riveted until the final page. Hollywood's leading actors should be asking their agents about this one. If a movie version turned out to be as riveting as the book, it would be a big winner." -- Associated Press
"... a desperate and convincing picture of disease-peddlers and sufferers who have drifted off the deep end." -- Kirkus Reviews
About the author
Frank Freudberg is a novelist and ghostwriter. He lives near Philadelphia and has contributed to Reuters, the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Der Spiegel, Christian Science Monitor and others. His work has been mentioned in many notable publications including Time, Newsweek, and The Guardian.
Interview the author
Contact Frank Freudberg at 1-800-875-2844, or via email here for a review copy.
Please note that Find Virgil has an unusual publishing history. Read more about that in the "From the Author" section on the novel's Amazon page here.
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SOURCE Frank Freudberg