The Alcoholic Empire: Vodka and Politics in Late Imperial Russia

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"Russians are famed for their debilitating love of vodka. During the late imperial period, alcohol was blamed for health problems, workplace accidents and absenteeism, rioting and pogroms, and the decline of the army. Many outsiders have cited it as the primary cause of Russia's "backwardness" and a barrier to its modernization. Alcoholism continues to plague modern Russia, causing major social, economic, and health problems." In The Alcoholic Empire, Patricia Herlihy illuminates the complex relationship between vodka and politics in Russia, focusing on the history and role of temperance organizations in the late imperial period. She traces the beginning of temperance activities to 1894, when Nicholas II created a monopoly on the sale and production of alcohol. Temperance advocates - a diverse group that ranged from Tolstoy to illiterate peasants and included laity, clergy, and workers, men and women, the medical professions, the Duma, and the military - disagreed about the causes and remedies for alcoholism, but they agreed that it was a social and moral problem for which the government should be held accountable.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195160956
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Herlihy 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

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 Singing One's Way to Sobriety: The State's Guardianship 14
3 Drugs Are Our Business: Physicians Stake a Claim on Therapies 36
4 Battling Booze: Strategies for Sobriety in the Military 52
5 The Church's New Social Mission 69
6 Women's Physical and Political Use of Alcohol 90
7 Tea and Symphony: The Laity Mobilizes against Alcohol 111
8 The Politics of Alcohol 129
9 Conclusion 146
Epilogue 151
Notes 163
Bibliography 215
Index 235
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