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The King of Vodka: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and the Upheaval of an Empire
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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 nave 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 nameSmirnoff. Linda Himelstein's critically acclaimed biography of Russian vodka scion Pyotr Smirnova finalist for the James Beard Award, winner of the IACP and Saroyan Awards, and a BusinessWeek Best Business Book of 2009is the sweeping story of entrepreneurship, empire, and epicurean triumph unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Publishers Weekly,Journalist Himelstein recaptures Russia's golden age through the eyes of the former serf-turned vodka entrepreneur, Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov (1831-1898). From his early days as a "small-time liquor peddler" to one of Russia's richest men, Smirnov was the nemesis of teetotaling Tolstoy-who blamed the country's late 19th-century woes on his countrymen's thirst for alcohol. As the first Russian brand architect and seller of high-quality, low-cost liquor, Smirnov makes for a fascinating subject in his trajectory and outsize ambition. He applied for the title of Purveyor to the Imperial Court, but "the tsar's refusal, rather than deflating Smirnov's outsized ambition, emboldened it. It aroused something deep inside the man, a creative spark that transformed Smirnov from a competent businessman into one of the most ingenious marketers of his time." While the dozens of obstacles, including the closure of the Imperial Archives and a dearth of information about Smirnov's years of serfdom, might have deterred lesser researchers, Himelstein has triumphed with a timeless book that entertains, informs and inspires any would-be entrepreneur to chase his dreams. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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