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December 9, 2003

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - American Still Life

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 10:02 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

American Still Life : The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World's #1 Bourbon by F. Paul Pacult, John Wiley & Sons, 240 Pages, $24.95, Hardcover, August 2003, ISBN 0471444073
Some things are just part of the American Tradition: Apple Pie, The Liberty Bell, and The Old West to name a few. That is also where Jim Beam whiskey fits into the grand scheme of America: the enduring tradition of an icon. American Still Life captures the essence of what has made the Beam family synonymous with sippin whiskey, and how they made Jim Beam the worlds number one Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.
Author F. Paul Pacult molds the story of the Beam family into a fascinating narrative, told as if it was your own family history. The tale follows pioneer Jacob Beam settling in Kentucky in 1787, through to his great great great grandson Booker Noe, the Jim Beam spokesman today. The dynasty and brand are observed through days on the frontier, prohibition, the depression, WW II, the rise of vodka in the pop culture, and to the appreciation whiskey has gained today as Americas national drink.
The author does a great job of presenting the history of what was once considered an adjunct farm activity, into a source of pride and heritage for all Americans. Pacult not only gives the history of Jim Beam, he also goes through the process of making the whiskey. As an expert of beverage alcohol and spirits, he gives in-depth explanations of what exactly has given Jim Beam whiskey the flavor that has become familiar to so many people. He ends the book with a whiskey tasting guide that examines all the Jim Beams brands with a master tasters touch.
I love how colorful this book is. Filled with vivid imagery and great characters, it is very entertaining and such an easy read. For example, the author writes in the preface about Booker and the Beam legacy:
Booker was so appealing because of his boundless enthusiasm, and no-nonsense personality. Tall as he was wide of girth, Booker commanded the speakers table by merely sitting there. He defined what a Kentucky whiskeyman should be...The Jim Beam Bourbon sage is one part family history, one part riveting fireside tale about the western frontier, one part memorabilia scrapbook, and part international business opusinextricably interwoven into the tale of Americas independence.
Whether you are interested in finding out how a great legacy of a business is established and maintained or if you are a history buff, this book is perfect. This is well-told story that is worth your time.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.