By Linda Himelstein
during this sweeping background of vodka scion Pyotr Smirnov and his kinfolk, wonderful journalist Linda Himelstein plumbs a very good riddle of Russian historical past throughout the tale of a humble serf who rose to create some of the most celebrated enterprise empires the area has ever identified. on the middle of this brilliant narrative, Pyotr Smirnov involves existence as a hero of amazing complexity—a guy of extreme ambition and uncanny company feel, a patriarch of a kin that will aid outline Russian society and be afflicted by the Revolution's aftermath, and a loyalist to a state that might in the future honor him as a treasure of the kingdom.
Born in a small village in 1831, Smirnov depended on vodka—a commodity that during some ways defines Russia—to flip a lifetime of shortage and anonymity into one among giant wealth and foreign acceptance. ranging from the backrooms and part streets of nineteenth century Moscow, Smirnov exploited a golden age of emancipation and wonderful grassroots advertising techniques to popularize his items and ensconce his model in the thirsts and imaginations of drinkers all over the world. His vodka will be gulped within the taverns of Russia and Europe, praised with accolades at global gala's, and turn into a staple at the tables of Tsars. His unbelievable ascent—set opposed to a sobriety campaign supported by way of Chekhov and Tolstoy, mounting political uprisings and exertions moves, the eventual monopolization of the vodka alternate via the state—would fall apart amidst the chaos of the Bolshevik revolution. just a set of surprising coincidences—including an immense criminal get away by way of one in all Smirnov's sons in 1919—would hinder Smirnov's legacy from fading into oblivion.
Set opposed to a backdrop of political and ideological currents that will be sure the process international history—from the autumn of the Tsars to the increase of Communism, from vodka's popularization via none except James Bond to Smirnoff's emergence as a multi-billion buck brand—Smirnov's tale of triumph and tragedy is a charming historic touchstone. The King of Vodka is far greater than a biography of a rare guy. it's a paintings of narrative historical past on an epic scale.
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Extra info for The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire
He had tasted freedom and scratched up against success; he had seen one of his own climb from the bottom of the social order to a position of respect. Staying behind in this relative speck of a town, while his brother got to experience the great metropolis, may have seemed unfair. Why should he remain glued to his humble birthplace, close to his parents, while others were migrating, progressing, and succeeding? His situation darkened even more when Grigoriy died unexpectedly in 1844 from edema.
All water was boiled and the eating of apples, prunes, melons, and cucumbers was forbidden. Garlic, a natural disinfectant, became part of people’s diets as the government doled out daily rations. The tsar’s containment policies applied to everyone, regardless of social position or stature. In September 1830, the poet Aleksander Pushkin had planned a short trip to his family’s estate in Boldino. He ended up staying there, under virtual house arrest, for three months. This period, nonetheless, turned out Hello 3 to be one of the most proliﬁc in the writer’s life.
Praskovya matured into an enchanting young woman. She was a natural beauty, with dark hair and milky white skin. It is not clear when Nikolay’s admiration for her artistic talents bloomed into a deep love, but that is what happened. The two had a tortured, secret affair, forbidden to show the true passion between them. It was not until Praskovya fell ill with tuberculosis that Nikolay overcame his devotion to society’s mores. He freed his serf and then, in secret, married her on November 6, 1801.
The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire by Linda Himelstein