To many people vodka is just vodka, a clear alcoholic drink, yet such a blanket determination will be offensive to many nationalities, particularly Russians, who can hold such ferocious loyalties to their favourite drink that would put many Scots to shame.
This (translated) book is a comprehensive treatise about vodka, much more than "just" an A to Z run through. It is thorough, complex, involved and dedicated to just vodka, yet the book manages to be accessible to the average interested reader even though it is written to an academic-plus level. The best of both worlds in fact. First impressions can and are deceiving and the more one became drawn into this book the less awareness one had as to time passing by. It is one of those books where the cliché "so good, it was hard to put down" was surely invented for.
There is probably far much more information about vodka than you'd ever need or want to know, yet that is no bad thing. Whether you are interested in the historic or sociological side of vodka, you're covered. Interested more in culinary matters? Yes, this book is here for you too and you have the benefit of direct access to the original Russian language sources for greater authentic impact (albeit, of course, translated for the reader into English). There are also large extracts given in Russian as well as, befitting such a book, an extensive series of notes and bibliographic references at the end.
This reviewer is not sure whether he will benefit from the reproduction of "what to do before, during and after a drinking bout" (of Vodka), for example, but it remained an interesting reflective read in the broader context of this fascinating book. Just beware: you could soon "bore" for your country about the diversity of vodka.
Clearly this book won't be for everybody, but it would not be hyperbole to suggest that this could be a good gift for the "information curious" who might not even drink alcohol. The more culinary inspired will love this just for its broad background benefits and the fan of vodka will just think they've died and gone to heaven, so to speak, such is the wealth of material at their reading disposal.