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512 pages, Hardcover
First published December 19, 2013
Either in the Kremlin or at Stalin’s dacha, political decisions were made over drinking games and toasts of Russian vodka, Crimean champagne, Armenian brandy, and Georgian wine, beginning with the late-evening dinner and ending only with the dawn…Milovan Djilas ruminated after his Kremlin visits: ”it was at these dinners that the destiny of the vast Russian land, of the newly acquired territories, and, to a considerable degree, of the human race was decided”….Krushchev’s gravelly voice [in his recorded memoirs] recounted how the inner circle loathed meeting with Stalin—due mostly to the drunken bacchanals…”there was always the danger that you …would end up dozing off at his table. Things went badly for people who dozed off at Stalin’s table.”
With their life savings gone, jobs evaporating, the uncertainty of economic calamity, and the lack of steady leadership is it any wonder that more and more Russians turned to vodka, practically the only product that was both cheaper and more available than under the Soviets?...With the ruble rendered practically worthless by hyperinflation, more and more transactions were conducted through the primitive commodity money of vodka rather than modern paper currency.