“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
The creators of Budweiser and Michelob beers, the Anheuser-Busch company is one of the wealthiest, most colorful and enduring family dynasties in the history of American commerce. In Bitter Brew, critically acclaimed journalist William Knoedelseder tells the riveting, often scandalous saga of the rise and fall of the dysfunctional Busch family—an epic tale of prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the dark consequences of success that spans three centuries, from the open salvos of the Civil War to the present day.
This thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written book takes a look at one of the great American family and business sagas the life and times of the Busch family of St. Louis, who dominated the U.S. beer industry over five generations. Former journalist Knoedelseder's (Stiffed: The True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia) begins in 1859, when Aldolphus Busch purchased "a tiny, bankrupt brewery that made bad-tasting beer on the banks of the Mississippi River" and transformed it into Anheuser-Busch, an estate "worth a staggering $60 million." The bulk of the book then focuses on the next generations of Busch alpha males: August A., who survived Prohibition and made Budweiser into America's first national beer brand; August Jr., best known as "Gussie," whose purchase of the St. Louis Cardinals providing "thirty thousand Budweiser drinkers held captive for two to three hours" each game was "one of the best marketing teamups in the annals of American business" and solidified Anheuser-Busch as the largest brewer in the U.S.; August III, who introduced the company's first truly streamlined business model, as well as the successful Bud Light beer; and the troubled and reckless August IV, who unsuccessfully fought to keep Anheuser-Busch from being purchased in 2008 by a foreign conglomerate for $52 billion, "the largest cash transaction in the history of American business."
Amazing story that goes in depth of a world most all of us will never know or understand. The rise and fall of the Bush family and thus the company is tragic but the lessons are invaluable. Having watched (from the inside) a company grow to a fortune 50 size only to have the reins turned over to an "outsider", this story seems familiar. The story is compelling, the writing complete.
I couldn't put it down.
Excellent look from a personal and business perspective. I'm not a huge fan of reading such books but found this to be a great account of what transpired through the years of this huge dynasty. Very good read!
Excellent look at Busch history. Sad and almost disturbing at times. Great read!