on September 29, 2003
This book kept me enthralled for an entire weekend. A great look at a family that created an entire industry with a distinctly American product, Bourbon.
As the story of a facinating family, the author gently takes you through the many generations of the Beams without getting you lost in a morass of detail. You remain excited waiting for the next turn in their fortunes, and you get a wonderful look at the many personalities involved in building the Bourbon industry over time in the process.
When I think about the book from a business standpoint, Paul Pacult succeeded in conveying the patience and the passion these people have for their product, and how they manage to maintain that passion, literally over generations. In a world of managing quarter to quarter, the Beams are a refreshing change.
A very-well written, facinating look at a piece of Americana. I heartily recommend it.
on March 17, 2004
This book captures a truly unique American product, and a family that was integral to the creation of the industry. As I write this review, Booker Noe's death was just recently announced. The personalities of the larger than life characters like Booker are wonderfully captured within the narrative. Even if you're not a fan of bourbon (philistine!), you'll come away with a great appreciation for the definitive American spirit (both the drink and the people).
on September 22, 2003
I read American Still Life this Summer. It reads like a Michener novel. I prefer reading non-fiction but most non-fiction is boring and tedious. So I was pleased when I had a chance to read this book. It's a strong testament to our American founders and to the Beams, American icons, who 'took the pain' out of the daily struggles. Great Read!
on September 16, 2003
Much like an inspiring Ansel Adams photo or a heart-warming Norman Rockwell illustration, Pacult instills (pun intended) the human side of the story in this fascinating view of Americana. I drink bourbon only on rare occasion, say after a wonderful dinner. But I love history... because good history is life! The first part of this title tells it all: "American Still Life."
This ain't just about makin' whiskey. Indeed, Pacult well knows what goes on inside those aging barrels, and he doesn't let the wine and spirits connoisseur down with the technical side, and artistic side, of making great bourbon. For me, this book is more about Jim Beam, the legend! Pacult does a wonderful job in bringing history - and the present day human condition - to life!
Bourbon is my vice. There, I said it. And I should say, after many many meetings with various professionals, I say it very well. Here, let me say it again...Bourbon is my vice.
One of the staples of the Bourbon scene is, of course, the fine products from Jim Beam. As much an American success story as any others you could name, the Beam family took the Bourbon industry and, as documented in this book, pretty much bent it to it's will. But they did so not via soap-opera-style intrigue and backstabbing, but through honest and forthright dealings with both their peers and the public. While members such as Booker Noe inject some relief, overall the portrait is that of a steady and patient family, willing to do things right without rushing or cutting corners...a necessary philosophy for success in the Bourbon world.
The writing is clear and approachable, with logical organization and evidence of meticulous research. Pacult is to be commended on what I think is the definitive work on both the family and the product they create. Part industry manual, part dynastic biography, this book hits to a number of bases and hits well. It is not a jiffy-read insta-published book. No this, like the spirit that inspired it, deserves to be savored and enjoyed.