This is a study of the social, economic, and political role of vodka in nineteenth-century Russia. Since the "Green Serpent" first appeared in sixteenth-century Muscovy, it has played a vital part in Russian life. Vodka became an essential ingredient in all working class celebrations--personal, religious, and commercial. By the nineteenth century, it was generating one third of government revenue. The individual and governmental dependence on vodka has endured into the Gorbachev era, yet until now, the phenomenon has largely been ignored by historians. Drawing on original research in Soviet archives, this lively volume will provide an indispensable analysis of the importance of the vodka trade to all aspects of Russian life.
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