The death of Adrienne Martin is the latest twist in a saga that has transfixed St. Louis. The Busches and their beer company had survived Prohibition, labor strikes, and price wars, growing to operate 12 breweries around the country, producing 128 million barrels of beer in 2007 and taking in nearly $17 billion in revenue. The red, white, and blue Budweiser can is practically synonymous with America itself. But at a crucial time, the company failed to adapt to a changing market, leaving it weakened and vulnerable to a foreign takeover. And it was August Busch IV, the last member of the family to lead the brewery, who was there when it all came apart. Martin’s overdose represented not just the darkest moment in Busch’s turbulent life. It also signaled the unraveling of one of America’s most storied families, their business empire, and the city their money had helped build.
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