Customer Reviews: The Prince of Beers (Kindle Single)
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on December 2, 2012
I love this new journalism format. A buck ninety nine to sit absorbed in the unfiltered, seemingly unedited words of the author. I am a gigantic John Wells fan, and only partially because I'm a gigantic Alex Berenson fan. And I most like to read them via audiobook, where I can feel as though the storyteller is speaking directly to me. Well, that's pretty much how Kindle Singles work -- guy's got something to say and he says it.

Here the topic is the sad and lonely life of a world class screw-up. August Busch IV is like King Midas in reverse -- everything he touches turns to crap. In the hands of a lesser writer I would have found myself hating Busch IV, who'd been handed everything and threw it all away, unraveling an iconic American brand and the employer of 30,000 in the process. But Berenson manages to extract some empathy even for this boorish rake. Busch's struggle to win the approbation of an aloof and demanding father will be recognizable even to those whose fathers didn't happen to run the biggest brewery in the world. It doesn't absolve baby Busch for the two women whose death he at least had an ignoble role in hastening, if not outright causing. But I feel for the guy.

As I finished reading this, the Pink Floyd song "Comfortably Numb" came on my ipod. Fitting.
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on November 28, 2012
I don't drink much beer, don't care for celebrity bios, really hate celebrity expos, but I greatly admire author Alex Berenson's prose, so when I saw this profile article, I immediately downloaded it & read it, start to finish in 1 sitting. (That's just 1 of the benefits of a Kindle single.) This fascinating review of August Busch IV, heir to the Anheuser-Busch beer brewing empire, is a dynamic but sad story of someone who has never emerged from his father's long shadow to make his own positive mark in his family, much less in the world his ancestors so affected.

You wouldn't think a bio of a beer brewer in St. Louis would have the drama & chaos of, say, a Manhattan insider trader or a Paris couture maven, but Berenson's observations & insights draw us into this tragic story. Busch IV never experienced his father's love, never demonstrated the ability to run the A-B empire, never gave his love to another, & thus never found peace & happiness. Two of his female companions died in his presence, at least partly because of the spill-over of his self-destructive ways. But these are only the most glaring examples of his failures, failures despite his family's legacy, fortune, & interventions to keep him out of trouble. Now in his late 50s, Busch IV is marking time w/his millions -- no job, no philanthropies, no friends. Even his family, Berenson points out, left him in CO while they holidayed in HA recently.

Without Berenson's deft touch, this would be a completely depressing story. But as w/any of his best-selling suspense novels, this story reminds us that the story is not yet over, & the losses of yesterday still have the potential to point toward tomorrow. I didn't care about Busch IV before I began reading this profile. I do now. I hope Berenson will revisit this man in future & that the landscape will not be so bleak.
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on November 28, 2012
basically, "the prince of beers" is a history book. facts are presented, interviews conducted and insights are gleaned, in this case about august busch iv, heir to the anheuser busch brewing company. in another writer's hands such a tale might be nothing more than a sensationalist morality tale better served on cable television than the written page. however, in the hands of alex berenson, a writer who is both a journalist and compelling mystery/thriller writer (see the john wells series of books, of which "the night ranger" is due out next), the story takes on a life of its own even as it dissects the lives of busch iv and the women who tragically got too close to him. august busch iv was a party boy with an age-old tale to tell, he wanted his father's respect. he lived a life of privilege and excess. berenson touches upon some of that life here. there are things left out, but this is written as a kindle single, and there is enough for us to get the point. berenson somehow takes this unsympathetic, spoiled, rich boy and imbibes him (yes, it's a drinking pun) with just enough pathos to leave him more tragic and less insipid than i previously thought. i have some history with the anheuser busch company, some firsthand knowledge of its business practices and some previous knowledge of "four" (as he was known), but here in "the prince of beers" (whether it was intentional by berenson or not), i have learned that he might have deserved less hatred and more sympathy for his life choices.
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on May 1, 2015
Why would I read a book about the Busch Family? The reason is Alex Berenson! Mostly by accident I came across Berenson's "Faithful Spy." I loved the main character (John Well's) and I'm knee deep in the 9 or 10 book series. I actually started to slow down a bit so I don't run out of John Well's adventures so fast. Anyway The story of Busch and the famous company was very interesting and worth my time. I put Berenson right up there with my favorite writers including Grisham, Patterson, Flynn, Demille, Rosenfelt, Landay, MeDermid, LeHane and Connelly. Once last thing that made me really like Berenson is I emailed him after reading one of his books and although it took some time he actually wrote back. That kind of blew my mind. Alex Berenson Rocks!!
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VINE VOICEon February 20, 2013
The seminal story on August Busch IV ("The Fourth") can be found in Julie MacIntosh's stellar book, Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon. Compared to that fascinating, in-depth reporting, Alex Berenson's tale serves as no more than an digestif (were that digestif made from hops and barley).

Still, as an avid proponent of MacIntosh's work, I found "Prince of Beers" worthy of its quick read (it goes down easily in one setting). That's because MacIntosh's book reaches its climax with the successfully completed November, 2008 takeover of A-B by InBev. The subject of Berenson's book - the overdose death of Adrienne Martin at The Fourth's home in December 2010 - came as MacIntosh was concluding her work. As such, the event gets brief mention in her book's final pages. For those that loved Ms. MacIntosh's book like me and want to learn more about this event, "The Prince of Beers" is a must-read.

The Fourth, as described by Berenson, lives out a dark, depressing post-A-B life, surrounded by firearms and alcohol. The Martin death and his post-ouster stupor of a life is yet one more chapter in what MacIntosh calls a "Shakespearean family drama, I just haven't figured out which one." Indeed, the layers on complexity loaded on to the relationship between The Fourth and his hard-driving, fear-installing father ("The Third") is so redolent of the Bard's work that the challenge is figuring out which of many Shakespearean tragedies is the most fitting.
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on October 22, 2016
I finish about 2-3 audio books a week during my daily commute and thought this would be something really interesting as I hadn't been aware of the issues within the Anheuser-Busch other than the occasional business/news headline. While "The Prince of Beers" was generally interesting (assuming you didn't already known about the Anheuser-Busch family history) and the book was fairly well written, my biggest issue with this book (audio book) was the price versus its length/substance. This book reads like it was written as a long magazine article for Esquire or Playboy, but from the appearance on Amazon you would think it was a 200-300 page novel (what I was expecting based on the positive reviews). Unless this audio book drops below $3.99, I would spend your money on any alternative book(s) you may be considering or have on your wish list before this one. Alternatively you might be better off waiting for this one to arrive at your local library. You'll likely find by just Googl'ing of the Anheuser-Busch family and reading the associated news articles you'll end up getting as much of the story as this book offers. Sorry, I really wanted to like this book more, but just felt like I was cheated.
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August Busch had $10 billion dollars, but really nothing to do. After a lifetime of being bullied by his father,he had been given head of the board of Budweiser, only to lose the company in a hostile buy out to Brazilian InBev.

In 2010, a second beautiful woman has died in his company. In this single, the author does a fly by of years of complex history. It is fascinating. However, although we know the broad strokes of August's life, but we do not know the man. True his personality is subsumed into heavy substance abuse, but the variants that belong to him alone are largely missing.
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on February 25, 2014
This is a story that I sincerely wish the author had developed into a full blown novel.

For only 31 pages, the Kindle Single manages to touch on many facets of the Busch empire. From infighting, to guns, drugs, and death, this story has it all. The story of August Busch IV is riveting - an inside look at the destruction fame and fortune have wreaked on the family behind one of the biggest brands in the world.

If you're looking for a solid, short read, this is a Single you need to take a crack at. My only regret is not owning a book 10x this size to give the saga of the Busch family room to fully unravel.
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on January 5, 2013
The legend of a beer kingdom in the USA has come and gone and ended with a spoiled brat that was protected from his sins. The subject matter rushed into what went wrong with the company, not enough about what generated the kingdom and then the let down by an irresponsible lineage. The book was hard to follow as it jumped around a bit, no distinct story line that can be easily followed. Don't waste your money or time with this.
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on December 30, 2012
I would've given this a higher rating had the author not inserted himself and his opinions so heavily toward the end. It's educational and easy to read. I think understanding business and dynasty's and the people behind them is important for young people should be read and understood by all Americans. That is, it is the foundation of our lives, our country and it began over 5000 years ago. Withstanding my quirks, I still recommend the book.
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