About the Authors


Patrick Reynolds

A grandson of tobacco titan R.J. Reynolds, Patrick Reynolds' advocacy work, motivational talks to youth and appearances in the national press have made him a well known and respected champion of a smoke-free society.

Patrick watched his father, RJ Reynolds, Jr., his oldest brother RJ Reynolds III, and other members of his family die from cigarette-induced emphysema and lung cancer. Concerned about the mounting health evidence, in 1986 he made the decision to speak out against the industry his family helped build. His book, however, has little to do with his work for a smokefree society.

To get to know his father better and come to terms with his legacy, Patrick coauthored the bestselling biography, "The Gilded Leaf: Triumph, Tragedy and Tobacco -- Three Generations of the RJ Reynolds Family and Fortune". Because of the 1918 death at 67 of the over-achieving patriarch, his eldest son RJ Reynolds, Jr., would receive a huge inheritance when he turned 28 in 1932. Dick Jr. went on to become a playboy, alcoholic, and an absentee father who married four times. Patrick's mother, Dick's second wife, was a starlet under contract to Warner Bros.

While the tobacco heir used his wealth to help put Presidents Roosevelt and Harry Truman in office, and helped launch the modern ecology movement from his private island in Georgia, Sapelo, he would not enjoy the satisfaction of achieving greatness in his own right. In 1964 he died from smoking the cigarette brands which had made him wealthy, leaving behind a mysterious will which disinherited his sons and left everything to his last wife.

Reviews of The Gilded Leaf:

"Fiction doesn't get any better than this. It's the kind of true-life story Hollywood scriptwriters dream about -- murder, mayhem, messy divorces, titillating escapades of a tobacco dynasty, souls bared to the tabloids, racing through life in the fast lane…The Reynolds family makes TV's 'Dynasty' look downright hokey." The Washington Times

"Fascinating...Illuminating…stunning detail."
Chicago Tribune

"Fascinating insight into the evolution of a family over three generations that is simply a good read…panoramic sweep, bitter irony and tragic touches."
Detroit Free Press

"An altogether fascinating story [that] quickly builds speed and interest and becomes an absorbing story of fortune and misfortune."
Washington Post Book World

"Readers of this captivating account may need to remind themselves that it is not fiction. There are colorful characters, a family rising from humble beginnings to attain fabulous wealth and power, scandal and tragedy wrought by excess—and an irony-laden finale."
Publishers Weekly

"A courageous and worthwhile book. More than an entertainment, it documents the danger of parents who confuse money with love."
The New York Times

In 1986, Patrick Reynolds spoke out publicly in Congress against the tobacco industry. In 1989, The Gilded Leaf was published by Little, Brown; in the same year, Mr. Reynolds founded the Foundation for a Smokefree America, based in Playa del Rey, CA. The nonprofit group's mission is to motivate youth to stay tobacco-free, and empower smokers to quit successfully.

In April, 2009, Patrick was invited by Greece's Health Minister to Athens, where he helped call national public attention to the problem of tobacco use. Because of his success in Greece, Mr. Reynolds' Foundation began contacting Health Ministers in nations where smoking rates are high, with a plan in 2011 - 2012 to go on press tours to build awareness of tobacco issues in Russia, China, India, the Middle East and other nations where smoking rates are high.

Over the years, Mr. Reynolds has spoken before dozens of municipal and State legislatures in support of proposed smoking ordinances which became law. He testified in Congress in favor of a ban of all tobacco advertising, and a second time to help bring about the present ban of smoking on all US domestic flights. He has campaigned for numerous State cigarette tax increases, FDA regulation of tobacco, Statewide 100% smoking bans, and laws to limit youth access to tobacco products. He also approached several members of Congress about the aggressive advertising of US brands in the Third World and Asia.

Mr. Reynolds released an educational video for grades 6 - 12 in 2011, The Truth About Tobacco, 2011 Edition. The video won excellent reviews; it shows a talk Patrick gave to 1,000 ninth graders, and sends an empowering message to teens about cigarette advertising and the addictiveness of nicotine. The DVD closes with Mr. Reynolds' unique initiation for teens and his inspirational message of hope for the future. The video has won acclaim from teachers, as well as library trade publications.

He is married and lives in Playa del Rey with his wife and son.


TV news interviews & debates: www.tobaccofree.org/tv/

Educational video for schools www.tobaccofree.org/videotruth.htm

Speaking work www.Tobaccofree.org/patrick.htm

Bio www.tobaccofree.org/bio/

Contact Patrick Reynolds or his staff at 1(310)577-9828

To e-mail, please see our Contact page.

Tom Shachtman

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As of 2011, critically acclaimed author Tom Shachtman has written 33 books and many television documentaries. The Economist called his AROUND THE BLOCK: THE BUSINESS OF A NEIGHBORHOOD (1997) “a near-classic,” and The New Yorker called it, “A grand idea, splendidly executed.”

His ABSOLUTE ZERO AND THE CONQUEST OF COLD (1999) was hailed by The New York Times as written “with passion and clarity,” and by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “an absolute delight.”

Publisher’s Weekly said of his brilliant RUMSPRINGA: TO BE OR NOT TO BE AMISH(2006), “Shachtman is a sensitive and nimble chronicler …he uses the Amish rumspringa experience as a foil for understanding American adolescence, and identity formation in general…This is not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People, but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move.” Library Journal said, “A fascinating and near-unprecedented glimpse into the inner lives of Amish society…Sensitively addresses the unique position of the Amish and the challenges they face. Highly recommended.”

For more details, or to e-mail Tom Shachtman, see his website, www.TomShachtman.com.