Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation

Living Water: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation

Hardback

By (author) David Christian

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  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Format: Hardback | 458 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 229mm x 29mm | 839g
  • Publication date: 11 October 1990
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198222866
  • ISBN 13: 9780198222866
  • Illustrations note: frontispiece, 43 figures and illustrations, 27 tables

Product description

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 regime 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.

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Review quote

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 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

Table of contents

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