The Alcoholic Empire examines the prevalance 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 was 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 alcoholism 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.
Readership: Students and scholars of Russian and Soviet History.
Patricia Herlihy, Professor of History, Brown University
"... fascinating study ... Herlihy tells an interesting and important story." - Journal of Modern History
"This book, the first systematic account of its subject, is valuable and interesting. It 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
"Herlihy's achievement is to show how various temperance activists used concern about drink as a weapon to express their opposition to tsarist government. Based on a thorough reading of published sources, Herlihy succeeds admirably in producing an account that is sensitive to the multiple social classes, regions, religions, and
professional groupings present in the Russian Empire." - The Russian Review