Synopses & Reviews
The Alcoholic Empire examines the prevalence of alcohol in Russian social, economic, religious, and political life. Herlihy looks at how the state, the church, the military, doctors, lay societies, and the czar all tried to battle the problem of overconsumption of alcohol in the late imperial period. Since vodka produced essential government revenue and was a backbone of the state economy, many who fought for a sober Russia believed that the only way to save the country through Revolutionary change. This book traces temperance activity and politics side by side with the end of the tsarist regime, while showing how the problem of alcohoism continued to pervade Soviet and post-Soviet society. Illustrated by timeless and incisive sayings about the Russian love of vodka and by poster art and paintings, this book will appeal to Russian and European historians and those interested in temperance history.
"The book provides ample evidence of the social breadth and depth of a cause that impassioned peasants and workers along with educated society...By successfully reconstructing a complex, many-voiced social movement, Herlihy contributes to greater understanding of civil society in the Russian context and reveals not only the political but also the moral passions that animated Russians at the end of the tsarist era."--American Historical Review
"[T]his book, the first systematic account of its subject....traces, lucidly and in no sectarian or puritanical spirit, the history of this all too characteristic Russian success in achieving the worst of all possible worlds."--The Tablet
About the Author
is Professor Emerita of Russian and Soviet History at Brown University and Research Professor at the Watson Institute for International Studies. She is the author Odessa: A History, 1794-1914