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Vodka History: The Good Info Isn't Found In Books

I learned in Mark Lawrence Shrad's book Vodka Politics that the book A History of Vodka by William Pokhlebkin is full of falsehoods, and that the author was actually assassinated (though I'm not sure if that was directly related to the book). 

I have a few other books on vodka but none as as satisfying for history (knowing what I know now about the history of distillation and alcohol as medicine), so in a recent search for a better history of the topic I turned to The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

The vodka entry there thankfully was written by Mark Lawrence Shrad. His other books have more to do with the impact of alcohol on society (he has another book on the Prohibition globally). That history is great, and he cites another paper I don't think I'd seen before: 

Scott Simpson: History and Mythology of Polish Vodka:1270-2007 

Today, vodka is an important element in Polish national identity. The distillation of wine was known to a small number of Polish physicians and scholars by the end of the13th century, but widespread popularity of distillates as beverages did not come earlier than the end of the 16 th century.Grain vodkas, in particular rye vodkas, have been an important part of Polish culture since at least the early 17th century.Polish potato vodkas arose in the late 18th century and dominated production in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but then fell to minimal levels.

    The entire 28 page paper is available here.

Screenshot 2024-07-06 at 12.27.16 PM


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