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Bitter Brew Cover-Review


The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer

By William Knoedelseder

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.” 

Publishers Weekly  

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