CHAPTER FOUR

VODKA

AS THE STORY goes, in 988, the Grand Prince of Kiev (Ukraine) decided it was time for his people to be converted from their pagan ways to one of the monotheistic religions that held sway to the south. First came the Jewish rabbis. He listened to their arguments, was impressed, but ultimately sent them away after noting that the followers of Judaism did not control any land. Next came the Muslim mullahs. Again he was impressed, both with their intellectual arguments and the success of Islam as a political and military force. But when he was told that Islam proscribed alcohol, he was dismayed and sent them away. Finally came the Christian priests, who informed him that not only could good Christians drink alcohol, but also that ...

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