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Book Review: Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis

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Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis is a fictional book which traverses two dimensions. One dimension is the faux history of Pocahontas in relation to the famous crop, the second dimension is told through Indian fairytales.

Following the adventures of Pocahontas and Ben Johnson in the early 17th Century the book traversers the world — from the New World to London’s inns and seedy sections. As the world evolves due to a new commodity, so does the Indian princess.

Tobacco Wars by Paul Seesequasis is a short novella which follows the imaginary adventures of Powatan princess Pocahontas with English playwright Ben Johnson. The story unfolds in America and later in London and back in the new world. The other story follows the ancient Indian tale of the Mother Bear who gives birth to the world and moves into modern times.

There were many adventures in the book, especially involving Pocahontas and Johnson; however, I’m not sure what the author was trying to convey in his story and the parallels between them. The parts with the Mother Bear were a bit vulgar, which is fine, but it was a sharp disparity to the interesting story of Pocahontas – the contrast was really striking and perhaps that was the point.

Maybe the author was trying to convey how the past, present, and future were all connected; again, I’m not sure.

The novella did get me thinking though.  To an amateur student of history, it is interesting the spin that we put on history in our schools. I’ve read some wonderful books which really put to shame the history books we get throughout our academic career, which I highly recommend (Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen comes to mind).

If anything, this novella made me want to read more about the characters involved, and that is always a good thing. Even though it is a short book it is a fine selection for any book club because there is much in it to discuss.

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