Family Reins: The Extraordinary Rise and Epic Fall of an American Dynasty

Written by Billy Busch
Review by Karen Bordonaro

Family Reins chronicles the history of the Anheuser-Busch brewing company, makers of Budweiser beer, from its beginnings in 1857 to its legacy today. Its author, Billy Busch, is the great-grandson of its original founder, Adolphus Busch, who emigrated from Germany to St. Louis, Missouri. Adolphus established a supply company first, then bought a brewery from Eberhard Anheuser and married his daughter. From his great-grandfather to his grandfather, father, and brother, Billy Busch recounts how the company survived Prohibition, the Depression, and two World Wars to become a business empire.

This book tells its story through the lives of these men and their exploits, both business and personal. Family lore and legends, as experienced and perceived by Busch, are interwoven throughout these pages. Readers learn not only of the tremendous personal efforts required to build this business empire, but also of their cost in terms of family relationships and home life. Busch describes how he suffered much family dysfunction not only with his parents, but also with his siblings, that apparently continues to this day. To his credit, he knows that he has lived a privileged life. He ends this memoir with the hope that his children may experience the legacy of this heritage in a more positive way going forward. Recommended for readers interested in the personal side of business history.