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 part of Russian working-class celebrations: personal, religious, and commercial. Trade in Vodka redistributed wealth upwards through Russian society over several centuries. Indeed, Russia's status as a great power was underpinned
by it: by the nineteenth century, it generated one-third of government revenue - enough to cover most of the costs of the vast army. The dependence on Vodka of both people and state has endured into
the Gorbachev era. But despite Vodka's key role in Russian history, and the complex network of corruption associated with it, the subject has been ignored by most historians until now. This study concentrates on an important transitional era in the history of Vodka: the early nineteenth century. During this period, Vodka taxes played the role that salt taxes had played in the ancien régime in France. The abolition of the tax farm in 1863 should be seen as
one of the most important of the `Great Reforms' of the 1860s, an era which, in many ways, parallels the glasnost of the 1980s.
`Exploring the subject of alcohol,Christian has painted a panoramic view of pre-1861 Russian society and government.'
Christine D. Worobec, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
`This is a work of admirable scholarship on a subject of immense significance in Russian history, and one that has been scandalously neglected.'
S A Smith, The Times Higher Education Supplment
`With greater access to Soviet archives for Western scholars, the possibilities for a comprehensive reassessment of `Vodka and Rusian Society' are increased enormously. David Christian, who has written illuminatingly about some aspects of the quetion, is a knowledgeable scholar in a good position to undertake more probing research in the archives themselves'.
Geoffrey J. Giles, Historical Journal, vol 34.
'he has much to say of value ... Christian's study is straightforward. Christian makes a number of important observations that place his research in a larger context.'
Steven Hoch, University of Iowa, American Historical Review, February 1992
`... Christian provides an exhaustive account of legal consumption from the mid-eighteenth century to the reform of 1863. ... this monograph is a valuable contribution to our understanding of a sphere vitally important to producer, consumer and tax officials in pre-reform Russia.'
Gregory L Freeze, European History Quarterly
`In a short review it is not possible to do justice to a study so rich in material, ideas, and provocative suggestions. Christian is at his best in bringing to life the role of vodka as a part of daily life in nineteenth-century Russia. ...Christian's Living waterdeserves to be widely read.'
James H. Bater, The Economic History Review
'The story is well told. The book is a pleasure to read. Christian is judicious and fair in his presentation of contemporary opinion.'
Dan Usher, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, The Annals of the American Academy
'... the book is as important for social historians as it is for specialists on finance and administration. Scholars with other specialisms will find their own examples of the way in which his book sheds light in dark places.'
David Saunders University of Newcastle upon Tyne EHR Shorter Notices April '94
List of figures; List of tables; Acknowledgements; Part 1: Vodka & Russian Society: Introduction: Vodka & Russian Society; Vodka before the Nineteenth century; Part 2: Drinking Vodka: Vodkas and pseudo-vodkas in the 19th century tavern; Drinking Vodka - Russia's drinking cultures; Part 3: Making money from Vodka: Selling Vodka (A) Taverns and tavernkeepers; Selling Vodka: (B) Tax farming; Selling Vodka: (C) The tax farmers; Taxing Vodka - the
government's share; Making Vodka - The nobility's share; Part 4: Vodka and emancipation; Upper class protest - press attacks on the tax farm; Working class protest - boycotting Vodka; Working class protest - smashing
taverns; Killing the hundred-headed hydra - the abolition of tax farming; Appendices; Glossary: measures and conversions; Bibliography; Index