Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State

Paperback | August 12, 2016

byMark Lawrence Schrad

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Russia is famous for its vodka, and its culture of extreme intoxication. But just as vodka is central to the lives of many Russians, it is also central to understanding Russian history and politics. In Vodka Politics, Mark Lawrence Schrad argues that debilitating societal alcoholism is not hard-wired into Russians' genetic code, but rather their autocratic political system, which has long wielded vodka as a tool of statecraft. Through a series of historical investigations stretching from Ivanthe Terrible through Vladimir Putin, Vodka Politics presents the secret history of the Russian state itself - a history that is drenched in liquor. Scrutinizing (rather than dismissing) the role of alcohol in Russian politics yields a more nuanced understanding of Russian history itself: from palaceintrigues under the tsars to the drunken antics of Soviet and post-Soviet leadership, vodka is there in abundance. Beyond vivid anecdotes, Schrad scours original documents and archival evidence to answer provocative historical questions. How have Russia's rulers used alcohol to solidify their autocratic rule? What role did alcohol play in tsarist coups? Was Nicholas II's ill-fated prohibition a catalyst for theBolshevik Revolution? Could the Soviet Union have become a world power without liquor? How did vodka politics contribute to the collapse of both communism and public health in the 1990s? How can the Kremlin overcome vodka's hurdles to produce greater social well-being, prosperity, and democracy intothe future? Viewing Russian history through the bottom of the vodka bottle helps us to understand why the "liquor question" remains important to Russian high politics even today-almost a century after the issue had been put to bed in most every other modern state. Indeed, recognizing and confronting vodka'sdevastating political legacies may be the greatest political challenge for this generation of Russia's leadership, as well as the next.

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Russia is famous for its vodka, and its culture of extreme intoxication. But just as vodka is central to the lives of many Russians, it is also central to understanding Russian history and politics. In Vodka Politics, Mark Lawrence Schrad argues that debilitating societal alcoholism is not hard-wired into Russians' genetic code, but ra...

Mark Lawrence Schrad is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University.

other books by Mark Lawrence Schrad

Format:PaperbackDimensions:512 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:August 12, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190468815

ISBN - 13:9780190468811

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Vodka Politics3. Cruel Liquor: Ivan the Terrible and Alcohol in the Muscovite Court4. Peter the Great: Modernization and Intoxication5. Russia's Empresses: Power, Conspiracy, and Vodka6. Murder, Intrigue, and the Mysterious Origins of Vodka7. Why Vodka? Russian Statecraft and the Origins of Addiction8. Vodka and the Origins of Corruption in Russia9. Vodka Domination, Vodka Resistance . . . Vodka Emancipation?10. The Pen, the Sword, and the Bottle11. Drunk at the Front: Alcohol and the Imperial Russian Army12. Nicholas the Drunk, Nicholas the Sober13. Did Prohibition Cause the Russian Revolution?14. Vodka Communism15. Industrialization, Collectivization, Alcoholization16. Vodka and Dissent in the Soviet Union17. Gorbachev and the (Vodka) Politics of Reform18. Did Alcohol Make the Soviets Collapse?19. The Bottle and Boris Yeltsin20. Alcohol and the Demodernization of Russia21. The Russian Cross22. The Rise and Fall of Putin's Champion23. Medvedev against History24. An End to Vodka Politics?