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The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire

The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire

by Linda Himelstein
The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire

The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire

by Linda Himelstein


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“A operatic tour-de-force.” —Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of The Widow Clicquot

“An impressive feat of research, told swiftly and enthusiastically.” —San Francisco Chronicle

From Vanderbilt and Rockefeller to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, America’s captains of industry are paragons of entrepreneurial success, and books about business history, from The First Tycoon to The Big Short, show exemplars of capitalistic cunning and tenacity…but just as American cocktail connoisseurs can mistake Absolut, Skyy, Grey Goose, or Ketel One for the quintessential clear spirit, so too has America’s vision of business history remained naïve to a truth long recognized in Eastern Europe: since the time of Tsar Nicholas, both vodka and commercial success have been synonymous in Russia with one name—Smirnoff. Linda Himelstein’s critically acclaimed biography of Russian vodka scion Pyotr Smirnov—a finalist for the James Beard Award, winner of the IACP and Saroyan Awards, and a BusinessWeek Best Business Book of 2009—is the sweeping story of entrepreneurship, empire, and epicurean triumph unlike anything the world has ever seen before.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060855918
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/30/2010
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 916,764
Product dimensions: 8.14(w) x 11.64(h) x 1.18(d)

About the Author

Linda Himelstein began her career in the Washington bureau of The Wall Street Journal before working at The San Francisco Recorder and Legal Times. In 1993 she joined BusinessWeek as legal affairs editor, writing about a wide array of topics, including the tobacco industry and Wall Street. One of her cover stories helped BusinessWeek win the National Magazine Award. Later, as the magazine's Silicon Valley bureau chief, she wrote about the infancies of eBay, Yahoo!, and other companies. She lives with her family in Northern California.

Table of Contents

The Cast ii

Author's Note xiii

Prologue: Good-bye xv

Part 1

Chapter 1 Hello 1

Chapter 2 Moscow 17

Chapter 3 The Land of Darkness 35

Chapter 4 The Vodka Maker 53

Chapter 5 "Demand Smirnov Vodka" 67

Chapter 6 To Vienna and Back 81

Chapter 7 Mariya 95

Chapter 8 Vodka Wars 113

Chapter 9 The Vodka King 129

Chapter 10 From Pursuit to Preservation 137

Chapter 11 Monopoly Capitalism 153

Chapter 12 The Tsar and 3,000 Flashing Bottles 171

Chapter 13 Twilight 179

Chapter 14 Two Dead Bodies 195

Part 2

Chapter 15 A New Century, a New Reality 203

Chapter 16 Monopoly Madness 213

Chapter 17 From Bad to Bizarre 225

Chapter 18 A War, Uprisings, and Then There Was One 235

Chapter 19 Life and Death and Love and Death 247

Chapter 20 Sudden Chaos 261

Chapter 21 Revolution 275

Chapter 22 Escape 287

Chapter 23 Smirnov with an "F" 303

Chapter 24 The End is a Beginning 317

Epilogue 327

Acknowledgments 339

Endnotes 343

Selected Bibliography 371

Index 375

What People are Saying About This

Tilar J. Mazzeo

“The story of the Smirnov family is an operatic tour-de-force, and Linda Himelstein tells it with grace and passion.”

Julia Flynn Siler

“Linda Himelstein has pulled off a remarkable storytelling feat.”

Patricia Herlihy

“To follow the lives of members of the Smirnov family in this vivid account is to experience the flow of Russian history from the 1830s until the present. ”

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