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Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State Hardcover – February 5, 2014
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Overall, Schrad's strong research and analysis of economic policies and their social impact carry his argument. Social and economics historians or activists seeking to understand or tackle the ongoing Russian dependence upon vodka will find this work compelling.--Elizabeth Zeitz, Otterbein Univ. Lib., Westerville, OH (Library Journal)
a powerful critique of the effect of the levels of vodka consumption and of government policy ... this book has real value ... [which] principally lies in its laying bare the effects of excessive vodka drinking on the course of development of Russian society and the responsibility of the Russian state in allowing this to develop Graeme Gill, Australian Journal of Politics and History Schrad is an engaging writer. He ranges across Russian history with ease, zeroing in on countless striking anecdotes and developing his story within a competent and well-researched narrative. The author brings to bear vast scholarly literature as well as published and unpublished (including archival) primary sources ... Vodka Politics draws upon vast research, tells a lot of great stories, and advances a provocative thesis. Jonathan Daly, American Historical Review
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Top Customer Reviews
His main thesis is that since the days of the Vladimir the Great of Kiev, alcohol has been used to make the Russians happy. The traditional drinks of Russia were naturally fermented beers, ales, meads and kvas. The imposition of the more potent artificial, distilled spirits came only with the imposition of the modern autocratic state, which used vodka to siphon off society's wealth into the treasury, making this drink the central pillar of Russian autocratic statecraft. Vodka, corruption and autocracy have been intertwined in Russia ever since.
Its secondary thesis is that, in a way, Russian rules conducted a kind of controlled schizophrenic policy vis-av-vis vodka: on the oned hand there were those who encouraged the masses to drink(Stalin being one of them) and on the other hand there were those who were against it(Lenin who was really paranoic about it, and Gorbachev). The reason: vodka was a powerful tool to control the masses and also served as a principal source of income for the state.
What is great about this book is the vivid style of writing, demonstrating again that only some people belonging to the academia can also write not only for their peers but also for the history buff as well. The author demonstrates that since its inception, Russia was drenched in alcohol. This fact created the tragic consequences for the Russian society. It hastened the demise of the Soviet Union itself and caused what Professor Schrad calls "the literal demodernization of a twentieth century country".Read more ›
There are drunken toddlers, soldiers called in to keep people from becoming sober, and a midget wedding (possibly dwarves). What other history book can offer that?
The book is eminently readable, well researched, and moreover manages to deal seriously with something that has become a cliche, without resorting to stereotypes or platitudes. Recommended.
Few histories have made me catch my breath as this did: to have done so with relatively raw data is triply impressive.
For example, both Tsarist & Soviet Russia ended after prohibition or state enforced temperance . Whereas, for much of Russian history, vodka was used by the state both as an instrument of revenue and subjugation. In wars, Vodka transformed soldiers at times into "heroes", while other times into fools (like during Russo-Japanese war)
In the end you may even agree that had it not been for Vodka determental effects, Russia would have been as prosperous & healthy as its Scandinavian neighbors. (Who in not so distant past also suffered under Vodka politics but overcame it)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a crazy awesome book, and makes the Russian autocracy very easy to understand. The history is excellent and the topic showing the correlation between Vodka and the control... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Jessica Angelus
This book is a little schizophrenic; at times it reads like an academic tome, at other like a public policy recommendation, at others like pop history. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Neurasthenic
Oh, no! I just started listening to this and don't know if I can take it. No Russian I've ever known, or listened to, or seen in a Russian movie, talks anything like that, either... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Reticulator
A fascinating and original read about a particular (yet broadly applying) concept within Russian history: the influence of Vodka as a desired object and as an effective weapon by... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Ryan Gartland
good book but it could have said just as much in about 50-75 less pages. a few parts dragged on. however i learned a lot about Russian history and that alone was worth the price of... Read morePublished 11 months ago by jeremy sandusky
meticulously researched, well written and interesting. This is a book worth readingPublished 19 months ago by dawn worner