Oy. Did I say the book was a problem? No, I did not.
The mechanism of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma is believed to be mechanical, and is well understood to be effected through inhalation of the fibers. Asbestos dust is composed of short, extremely light mineral fibers that drift in the air and are easily inhaled. Smoking dramatically increases the risk associated with asbestos inhalation, and (as with all cancers) genetic factors are believed to influence the risk as well. This is all completely non-controversial, and well understood, and abundant documentation is available to you if you have an Internet connection, which is why my previous post was so brief. The less airborne versions of asbestos, like house shingles, are basically safe enough to eat - it's the dust that's dangerous.
Edit: removed possibly unwarranted snark, including cites from 1899 and ancient Rome.