Tobacco in Russian history (book)
Matthew P. Romaniello and Tricia Starks, Tobacco in Russian History and Culture: From the Seventeenth Century to the Present (London: Routledge, 2009).
Heroin and now cocaine addict RussiansHeroin from Afghan poppies has long been the basis of addiction in Russia. Recently there have been efforts to import cocaine too. American drug officials alerted their Russian counterparts about a recent plan to smuggle cocaine into the country. For more, see here.
Russian liquor monopoly, 1894-1914 (thesis)
PECHENUK, Wolodymyr, "The Russian Liquor Monopoly, 1894-1914" (M.A. thesis, Miami University, 1976). This is very old and worth mentioning mostly because it is unlikely to have been cited by more recent publications.
Alcohol and temperance in Russia (book)
Making tea Russian (thesis)
Audra Jo Yoder, "Making Tea Russian: The Samovar and Russian National Identity, 1832-1901" (M.A. thesis, Miami University, 2009).
Vodka in tsarist Russia and the USSR (book)
Mark Lawrence Schrad, Vodka Politics: Autocracy and Alcohol in Russia (under contract with Oxford UP for publication in 2011).
From his website:
Chapter 1: Vodka Politics—Introduction
Chapter 2: The Tsar and the Green Serpent: Alcohol and Intrigue in the Russian Court
Chapter 3: The Peasant, the Pauper and the Proprietor
Chapter 4: Vodka in Late Imperial Russia
Chapter 5: Did the Prohibition of Vodka Doom the Russian Empire?
Chapter 6: The Promotion of Drunkenness and Vice in the Soviet Union
Chapter 7: Did Gorbachev’s Anti-Alcohol Campaign Doom the Soviet Empire?
Chapter 8: Leading by Example: Vodka, Yeltsin, and the Russian Demographic Catastrophe
Chapter 9: What Does It Mean that the Russians Are Drinking Beer?
Chapter 10: What is to be Done? Putin, Medvedev and the Challenges Ahead
Just as vodka plays a major role in the social lives of many Russians, alcohol has played a major role in the political life of Russia itself. In the twentieth century alone, vodka has led Russia to defeat in one war, while almost provoking another. At the beginning of that century, vodka politics precipitated the demise of the tsarist empire amidst the flames of Bolshevik revolution, while at century’s close, the same political dynamics accelerated the demise of the Soviet empire. In the new millennium, alcohol and the legacies of autocratic rule play critical roles in perpetuating a tragic demographic crisis unlike any seen in peacetime in world history, that threatens the future foundations of Russian politics and society.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation has confronted a myriad of unprecedented political, economic and social challenges; yet perhaps the most crucial challenge that the current government of Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev face today is “a public health crisis that verges on the catastrophic.” According to the most recent UN data, the life expectancy for the average Russian man has dropped to 59 years—just above the level of Ghana. Cancer, cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, smoking and suicides have all combined to decimate the Russian population, but amongst the biggest contributors to this appalling state of affairs is the consumption of alcohol—and vodka in particular—that has claimed upwards of 40,000 victims per year since the demise of communism. This problem has not gone unnoticed. In his 2006 State of the Nation Address, President Vladimir Putin called the demographic crisis “the most acute problem facing our country today,” while academics and health professionals have highlighted a vast array of negative implications of the crisis: from a permanent drag on the economy and the inability to field an effective standing army to social disarray and complete political disintegration. To be sure, the problems associated in part with the Russians’ addiction to alcohol are real, urgent, and truly a matter of life and death.
This book, then, paints a picture of the long and often contentious relationship between the Russian people and their government over alcohol and the common good. Far from being simply a romp through the history of inebriation and debauchery in Russia, it places Russia’s current alcohol challenge into appropriate historical context while addressing practical concerns of contemporary Russian alcohol-control policy. The project highlights the important role that alcohol—and alcohol-control—have played in the politics of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the post-Soviet Russian Federation. In terms of theoretical contributions to the study of comparative politics, one particular question holds the book together from beginning to end: which way does the causal arrow point in the relationship between culture and politics? As opposed to the traditional understanding that cultural elements (political culture) provide the foundation for national variation in political institutions, in this interpretive study, I argue that cultural elements—such as the well-known Russian penchant for vodka—are actually the result of prior political decisions and institutional arrangements themselves. In particular, I suggest that the infamous Russian affinity for drink is less an inherent cultural attribute, and more a legacy of centuries of authoritarian dominance. I argue that the consistent stifling of independent political organization by an autocratic tsarist and Soviet governments, coupled with the continued utilization of alcohol revenues to further the financial interests of the authoritarian state, has resulted in a situation where the so-called “liquor question” remains salient in post-Soviet Russia, after being put to rest in virtually every other European country.
Prohibition as a bad idea (book)
Mark Lawrence Schrad, The Power of a Bad Idea: Networks, Institutions, and the Global Prohibition Wave (Oxford UP, February 2010).
From his website:
In The Political Power of Bad Ideas, Mark Lawrence Schrad casts off the conventional assumptions that policymakers rationally mimic best policy practices in order to understand a curious international development: how a “wave” of alcohol prohibition--well-known to contemporaries as a bad policy idea--swept Europe and North America with the outbreak of World War I.
Original quantitative data and extensive archival research in Russia, Sweden and the United States provide the foundation not only for a better understanding of this historical development, but also for broader theorization about the forces shaping policy debates and outcomes in different national settings.
The growth of a robust transnational temperance advocacy network in the nineteenth century paved the way for policy action by diffusing a wide spectrum of policy-relevant ideas across numerous countries; the crisis of World War provided the catalyst, while the resulting policy trajectories were influenced by the institutional structure of decisionmaking in each country. The activation of institutional mechanisms of positive policy feedback, and the mobilization of normative policy-relevant ideational elements facilitated the adoption of prohibition in autocratic Russia and a society-dominated United States, while the institutional mechanisms of negative policy feedback and the mobilization of cognitive policy-relevant ideational elements proved resistant to widespread pressures for the bad policy of prohibition in corporatist Sweden.
Walking in the footsteps of Peter Hall’s edited classic, The Political Power of Economic Ideas, Schrad goes beyond the simplistic notion that “ideas matter” by articulating how and why they exert influence in different institutional contexts--examining how they “fit” or interact with national political actors, institutions, and policy dynamics. By advancing our understanding of an important chapter in world history and the confluence of ideas and institutions, this book will be of interest to scholars of American politics, international relations, comparative politics, sociology, and American, European and Russian history.
King of vodka (book review)
Diana Raabe reviews Linda Himmelstein, The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire here.
Vodka and Russia's reindeer herders
For alcoholism among Russia's reindeer herders, see here.
Tobacco in Russian history and culture (book)
Matthew Romaniello and others, Tobacco in Russian History and Culture (Routledge, 2009).