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Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer | [William Knoedelseder]

Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer

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. 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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Publisher's Summary

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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 William Knoedelseder (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (154 )
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4.3 (138 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jeremy McGough Midwest 11-09-12
    Jeremy McGough Midwest 11-09-12 Listener Since 2008

    Just me

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't stop listening..."
    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great story detailing the blood sweat and tears associated with building and ultimately losing one of America iconic companies / brands. I have lived in St. Louis for nearly 4 years now and this story has given me an entirely new perspective on the big brewery and the family that built it. I would reccomend this book to almost anyone who has an interest in history, business or even general drama.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BK Heartland of Mid-America 12-11-12
    BK Heartland of Mid-America 12-11-12

    BK

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    "Well researched"
    Did Peter Berkrot do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    It's too bad Berkrot didn't do as good a job researching things as the author did. Mispronouncing "Carondolet" might excusable for a non-St. Louisan, but to mispronounce Stuart Symington's name and Red Schoendienst's name is NOT excusable. His voice is pleasant enough, and I enjoyed listening, I just wish he'd have checked some things first.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terence Dahlonega, GA, United States 04-23-13
    Terence Dahlonega, GA, United States 04-23-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Fascinating Story Well Told"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm more of a wino than a beer drinker, but this is a really interesting story. It's extremely well written and well narrated. I would highly recommend this audio book to anyone interested in the history of American business. Informative and entertaining at the same time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Honolulu, HI, United States 12-02-12
    Michael Honolulu, HI, United States 12-02-12 Member Since 2010

    World Explorer

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    "Pass the Beer and Ammunition"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Bitter Brew to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version of Bitter Brew but there is a great PDF attached to the download for pics and charts.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Forth is my favorite as he is leaving an incredible path of death and destruction in his wake.


    Have you listened to any of Peter Berkrot’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but I do plan to listen to his other books in the future.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It was broken into 3 parts, and I finished it in less than a week as I found it very interesting. I think they should make it into a TV mini series.


    Any additional comments?

    I live in St. Louis so the book is a must read for people living in the Lou, but people from other places will enjoy the book if they have ever drank a beer or wondered what rich people do when they have no morals or common sense.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Sullivan Newport Beach, CA 11-15-12
    B. Sullivan Newport Beach, CA 11-15-12
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    "Great story! Hard to believe it is true."

    Really enjoyed this book! Narrator executes well but feel he may have been a bad choice for purely tonal reasons.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vee Berkeley,Ca. 10-29-13
    vee Berkeley,Ca. 10-29-13 Member Since 2011

    I like non fiction, true adventure, true crime, memoirs,true women,s stories, true espionage, etc.

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    "Bitter, boring business book"
    What would have made Bitter Brew better?

    IT,s basically a business statistics book. There were some wall st. compilations of of ordinary things that happen to modern families that have addicted children, and some un
    fleshed out quotes.I skimmed the book.


    What was most disappointing about William Knoedelseder’s story?

    THey lied about the human interest.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Peter Berkrot’s performances?

    Yes


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Anger that I spent the money.


    Any additional comments?

    Nothing wrong with a German writing about German power here.But be honest about what it is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah pacific, MO, United States 10-08-13
    Deborah pacific, MO, United States 10-08-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Every St. Louisian should read"
    Where does Bitter Brew rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best told stories of St. Louis history. This is a book every person in St. Louis should read. So full of a colorful history of one of our city's icon company's rise and fall.


    What does Peter Berkrot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Peter Berkrot reads the story as though he was there and experienced every event and episode. He has a great voice, easy to listen to for long periods of time. I could not put it down (turn it off).


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana Temecula, CA, United States 07-28-13
    Dana Temecula, CA, United States 07-28-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Makes History Memorable"

    This audio book is excellent. The story is real which makes it all the better. The author paints a picture with such detail that you can see the drama unfolding in your mind's eye. The reading was also excellent. This is a book that you will find yourself discussing and thinking about whenever you have a drink. There are only a handful of spots that the story lags, otherwise it is faced paced.

    I often try to imagine a future where big corporations rule the economy. This book gives me an insight into what may be the future. Instead of Congress stopping monopoly and oligopoly powers, the businesses may become so big that they fail to deliver their brand promises to the consumer, their stockholders and their employees. Budweiser does have good quality beer but other companies and markets they tried to swallow up failed to be profitable. With the new hedge fund managers who have raped and pillaged the company, you have to ask yourself how long will they continue to have good beer? Will management who is looking for short term profits in the end be the downfall of the company? Will small breweries be able to get a foothold in their local communities if the Budweiser quality is sacrificed for short term profits? Maybe the rise of multi-national corporations gaining power through politicians taking their political contributions is just a phase of capitalism. Maybe they will get so big that they fail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    06-25-13
    06-25-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Compelling story & I don't even like beer!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I think that this book would appeal to everyone. I hesitate to say I'm a St. Louisan because you don't have to be a local (or a beer drinker) to be facinated by this story! AB was huge nationally as well as locally but as a St. Louisan, it really is a sad story about a tragic family and the loss of another major business to foreign investors. It's another example of truth being more compelling than fiction!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes! I binged on it!


    Any additional comments?

    Whose job is it to research the pronunciation of local place names? There were several errors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nate W. St. Louis, MO. USA 04-15-13
    Nate W. St. Louis, MO. USA 04-15-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An American Family Empire Down the Drain"

    I worked at A-B for several years and can attest first-hand to the Busch family cult of personality described in "Bitter Brew." If anything, I found it to be even more palpable and all-consuming in the corporate culture than what is described in the book.

    The decades-long story that unfolds is fascinating in a way akin to reading about a royal family -- the aspirations, the battles, the treacheries, the grudges, and the grooming of heirs are all the same.

    In this way, I see the whole thing as less a cautionary tale of cutthroat capitalism, than a tragic account of fatal and flawed family dynamics.

    My only complaint is that Knoedelseder's telling is more plain and flatly journalistic than the vivid subject matter deserved, and in the end could've benefitted from more descriptive analysis into the meaning of it all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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