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Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer Hardcover – November 6, 2012
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“Bitter Brew deftly chronicles the contentious succession of kings in a uniquely American dynasty. You’ll never crack open a six again without thinking of this book.” (John Sayles, Director of "Eight Men Out" and author of A Moment in the Sun)
“As the Busch family goes, so goes America. Bill Knoedelseder has taken their multi-generational saga and boiled it down into a heartfelt, hilarious ode to beer, baseball and business.” (Michael London, Academy Award-nominated producer of "Sideways")
“A great American story told as well and it could be told. I’ll never drink a Bud the same way again.” (Larry Leamer, bestselling author of the Kennedy family trilogy, The Kennedy Women, The Kennedy Men and Sons of Camelot)
“An engrossing behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s most successful and familiar brands.” (Kirkus)
“[A] thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written book.” (Publishers Weekly)
“…well-written, and thoroughly documented company history…VERDICT A real-life family saga, this book is full of domestic and company details, some of which are sordid, others commendable. Recommended for readers interested in the backstory behind the King of Beers.” (Library Journal)
“An engrossing saga of the Busch family, one of the wealthiest, longest-lasting, and most colorful family dynasties in the history of American commerce.” (USA Today)
“[I]ntoxicating reading... This is a lurid, fascinating tale, which narrowly escapes the charge of being sensationalist thanks to its factual grounding and the significance of its subject-a family business that managed to dominate an industry but could not get its own dysfunction under control.” (Wall Street Journal)
“[An] engaging narrative.” (Daily Beast)
From the Back Cover
The engrossing, often scandalous saga of one of the wealthiest, longest-lasting, and most colorful family dynasties in the history of American commerce—a cautionary tale about prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the blessings and dark consequences of success.
From countless bar signs, stadium scoreboards, magazine ads, TV commercials, and roadside billboards, the name Budweiser has been burned into the American consciousness as the "King of Beers." Over a span of more than a century, the company behind it, Anheuser-Busch, has attained legendary status. A jewel of the American Industrial Revolution, in the hands of its founders—the sometimes reckless and always boisterous Busch family of St. Louis, Missouri—it grew into one of the most fearsome marketing machines in modern times. In Bitter Brew, critically acclaimed journalist Knoedelseder paints a fascinating portrait of immense wealth and power accompanied by a barrelful of scandal, heartbreak, tragedy, and untimely death.
This engrossing, vivid narrative captures the Busch saga through five generations. At the same time, it weaves a broader story of American progress and decline over the past 150 years. It's a cautionary tale of prosperity, hubris, and loss.
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There is information about Prohibition, the company's direction and excesses, personal failings and monumental egos. There are enough details to keep anyone's interest. He does an excellent job painting all of the principal players. He paints them warts and all but he also has a warmth for most of them. If you want specific information about the inner workings of the family - it's there. (In fact, you may need a score card of all the children from multiple marriages, cousins, and nephews.) If you want to see the excesses of wealth and the feeling of being "noblessely obliged" - its there. There is a great deal of information regarding competitors that adds to the narrative. There is information about the inner workings of the business. Throughout the narrative there is a tragic component that comes through. And yet through it all the bumble, stumble and persevere to enormous success. In the epilogue, the author compares the efficiency of AB In Bev with the philosophy of the founders. It was sad. Aunheiser Busch was such an integral part of the communities in which they were located and you could see that their absence affected the communities in a number of ways.
The Busch's could be tyrannical, arrogant and ruthless at times. But there was a brilliance and love for what they were doing. The quality of the product was paramount. The love of being good at what you did was the motivation not the ledger sheet.
It was a very interesting tale. I enjoyed the rise and the fall, the peccadilloes and the successes. Enjoy!
But beyond the business side of the book, there is the drama of the Busch family, from the first industrious generations to the last dissipated one. At this level, only a few mistakes can mean doom to a family controlled business. And the few that were made were big ones. You won't be able to stop reading this until you reach the end.
Great read if you like real-life soap operas. It has it ALL.