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William Pokhlebkin is a Fellow of the Institute of History at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. His previous books include a history of tea-drinking, and a political history of Scandinavia.
"Alcohol has been a far more important part of human history than most historians have recognised, potent for good and ill. Russia has known it under the name of vodka, and has been second to no other country for feeling its influence. Anyone wanting to learn about how and where its distilling began, about how production became a monopoly of the nobility and finally of the government, and about how perestroika tried to put stop to alcoholism, and why it has failed, must turn to this very learned, very informative book." - Victor Kiernan