PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Cover design: Marie Lane
No other drink can claim to have influenced the course of human affairs more than vodka. “The green serpent” transformed the Russian state into a great power but it helped to destroy both tsarism and communism – as well as the lives of millions of Russian peasants.
From Boris Yeltsin being dropped in a font and Shostakovich being cured of writer’s block to “the great vodka debauch” of the Russo-Japanese War and the Churchill-Stalin drinking duel at Yalta, the spirit determined the lives of individual Russians and the fate of a nation.
Both sophisticated and brutal, vodka is the best-selling spirit in the world. Distilled from rye or the humble potato, it has been known since the fourteenth century, when it was first used as a medicine, but it took James Bond and the Cold War to make it glamorous in the West, particularly with younger drinkers.