Make no mistake about it. When I am ready for a beer, I choose a Budweiser. Regular. Not Bud Lite, not Michelob, not Michelob Ultra. I like the “King of Beers.” Regular Budweiser.
So, I am enjoying the former best-seller, Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer by William Knoedelseder (New York: Harper Business, 2012). It is rare, but not without precedent, that we will go back and present a former business best-seller at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas that we have passed over previously from the lists. This one was a best-seller on several top lists. Even today, it remains at #13, #38, and #49 on three different Amazon.com best-selling business lists. I will be discussing this with Randy Mayeux, who also presents at the First Friday Book Synopsis, as to whether we should go back and get this one. It is really worth considering.
The inside cover states that the book is “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.”
He is a veteran journalist and best-selling author who honed his investigative and narrative skills during 12 years as a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times, where his ground breaking coverage of the entertainment industry produced a long string of exposes. His two-year investigation of payola and other corrupt practices in the record business sparked five federal grand jury investigations across the country, led to the arrest and conviction of a score of organized figures and formed the basis of his first best-selling book, Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business and the Mafia (Harper Collins 1993). Stiffed was named Best Non-Fiction work of 1993 by Entertainment Weekly, which called it “the scariest book of the year…and the funniest.” The two of the principal mob figures depicted in Stiffed–New Jersey crime boss Gaetano “Corky” Vastola and Roulette Records founder Morris Levy–subsequently served as the models for HBO’s Tony Soprano and his music business mentor Herman “Hesh” Rabkin. Since 2000, Knoedelseder has written three other books. In Eddie’s Name (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) chronicles the brutal murder of a Philadelphia teenager that made national headlines when Knoedelseder, as executive producer of the Knight Ridder news program Inquirer News Tonight, pressed the city to make public the content of 911 tapes recorded the night of the killing, which ultimately revealed a complete breakdown of Philadelphia’s emergency response system; I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Standup Comedy’s Golden Era (Public Affairs/Perseus) recounts Knoedelseder’s time as cub reporter covering the L.A. comedy club scene when David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and Andy Kaufman were young and undiscovered. It has been optioned for film by actor Jim Carrey. His next book for Harper Collins, Fins, is about the life and times of Harley Earl, the visionary car designer who helped engineer the phenomenal rise of General Motors.
I found this summary of the book on Amazon.com:
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.
You can read an excellent review of this book, published in The Wall Street Journal by Roger Lowenstein by clicking on this link:
Lowenstein is the author of The End of Wall Street and Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.
The selection of this book for the First Friday Book Synopsis is not automatic. There are other considerations as to whether we will go back and get one like this. I will discuss this more fully with Randy Mayeux. His call has been very reliable, and predictive of long-term success. In one of his previous blog posts, he noted that in 2013, he had presented seven best-sellers that are still on the New York Times best-seller list, while I only had one during the same period. There is no guarantee we will decide to work this one in. Regardless of what we decide to do, and no matter what you drink, this is quite a saga, and worth a careful read.
Maybe you could pop one while reading it! Note – that’s not what I did. I prefer to concentrate on what I am reading, and remember what I read.