A newly published book highlights the critical role vodka has played in Russian history. The work, titled Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State, sees an enduring connection between vodka and the autocratic political institutions and policies that have characterized Russia for centuries.
The work’s author, Mark Schrad, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, deftly weaves sociological data into a rather alarming portrait of a country brimming with binge drinkers. Presenting the book recently at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, Schrad cited World Health Organization data to show that Russians’ annual consumption of pure alcohol is roughly 15.7 liters per capita. Excluding children and abstainers, Schrad says that this figure boils down to the average Russian male drinker consuming two bottles of vodka and 13 beers per week.
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