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‘Living Water’ – Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation - Oxford Scholarship Online
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‘Living Water’: Vodka and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation

David Christian


This book is a study of the social, economic, and political role of vodka in 19th-century Russia. Since the ‘Green Serpent’ first appeared in 16th-century Muscovy, it has played a vital part in Russian life. Vodka became an essential part of Russian working-class celebrations, whether personal, religious, or 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 19th century, it generated one-third of government revenue — enough to cover most of the costs of the vast army. Th ... More

Keywords: Russia, vodka, Russian society, working class, 19th century, government revenue, Russian history, Great Reforms, vodka taxes

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1990 Print ISBN-13: 9780198222866
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198222866.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David Christian, author
Macquarie University, Sydney