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Vodka Politics Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

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 Ivan the 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 palace intrigues 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 the Bolshevik 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 into the 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's devastating political legacies may be the greatest political challenge for this generation of Russia's leadership, as well as the next.

©2014 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Sylla
    Shatin, Hong Kong
    21/02/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A repetitive mediocrity"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Another narrator without a fake Russian accent that makes it at time impossible to hear as he mumbles


    What could Mark Lawrence Schrad have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Stop repeating the same anecdotes again and again


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Noah Michael Levine?

    Anyone


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    A promising topic a thoroughly tedious and amateurish execution.


    Any additional comments?

    I really want y money back!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Crunge
    Fun City, Alberta
    07/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Look Natasha! Moose and Squirrel are drunk!"
    What did you love best about Vodka Politics?

    Mark Schrad's book tells the story of Russia's crippling dependency on vodka and the cynical manipulation of that dependency by Russia's leaders: imperial, soviet and modern. It is truly heartbreaking to hear Schrad's description of vodka's role in Russia's disintegrating social fabric. It is a thoughtful and serious work which is marred by the reader Noah Levine's performance.
    Although nominally a good narrator Mr Levine completely compromises the integrity of this work by reading every Russian quote in an inane Boris Badonov accent. I presume this was done to give a more `authentic' feel to the narration but it just sounds ridiculous. Levine even gifts this accent to well known Slavs like Katherine the Great (Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg) and Peter III (Karl von Holstein-Gottorp). Levine doesn't stop there; French, German, Swedish and English accents are included as well as cringe worthy recreations of Churchill, Nixon and Clinton.
    In defense of Mr. Levine he may have been submitting to the audio book producer's insistence. Sadly this is an actual Audible production!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Vodka Politics?

    The declining (current) Russian health statistics, due in part to vodka consumption, are startling.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Noah Michael Levine?

    Just about anybody (including Mr. Levine himself) as long as they had the nerve to say "No. I won't read parts in accents because it's stupid."


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It certainly made me cry (with frustration) at many points.


    Any additional comments?

    Multiple voices in audio books is certainly valid. They can really enhance a production in the right place. But this was not the right place. The producers owe Mr. Schrad (and me) an apology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lena Surzhko
    27/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An interesting thesis"

    This book presents a fascinating thesis about relationship between vodka and power politics. At times the evidence to support the thesis is s bit thin while conclusions are a bit grand. The conclusions could be strengthened by more comparative evidence from other countries and cultures. Yet, this is a worthy and admirable undertaking that looks passed stereotypes and examines Russian authoritarian history through a very different lens. The historical anecdotes alone make this book remarkable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jayne
    CARMICHAEL, CA, United States
    29/03/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Insightful!"

    No other book about Russia has been so bold in it's forthright opinions of Russian History and political events. Very Interesting! Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lego Mom
    20/06/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Overall not bad"

    Decent read. The medical statistics are staggering for sure. It will be interesting to see how Russia does economically in the next 10 years.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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