The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire (P.S.)

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9780060855918: The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire (P.S.)

“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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From the Back Cover:

Born in a Russian village in 1831, Pyotr Smirnov relied on vodka to turn a life of scarcity and anonymity into one of immense wealth and international recognition. Starting from the back rooms and side streets of nineteeth-century Moscow, Smirnov exploited brilliant grassroots marketing strategies to popularize his products and ensconce his brand in the thirsts and imaginations of drinkers around the world. His vodka would be gulped in the taverns of Russia and Europe, be praised with accolades at world fairs, and become a staple on the tables of tsars. But his improbable ascent would be halted by the chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution, and only a bizarre set of coincidences—including an incredible prison escape by one of Smirnov’s sons in 1919—would prevent Smirnov’s legacy from fading into obscurity.

Set against a backdrop of political and ideological currents that would determine the course of global events, The King of Vodka is much more than a biography of a humble serf who rose to create one of the most celebrated business empires the world has ever known. It is a work of sweeping narrative history on an epic scale.

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.

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