An anecdotal history tracing the fortunes of the American brewing family known as much for its right-wing politics as for
its suds, written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Baum (Smoke and Mirrors, 1996).
The founder of the Coors dynasty was Adolph Coors, who arrived in Colorado in 1873 and built a brewery in the foothills
above Denver—thereby founding a town that now, Baum observes, feels like "a fragment of Hamtramck, Michigan, dropped amid
spectacular Rocky Mountain wilderness." Adolph and his sons had strong feelings about the proper places of bosses and workers,
and they made a name for themselves as sometimes beneficent but more often harsh owners who busted unions and relentlessly
combed the ranks of their workers to weed out "thieves, radicals, and homosexuals." The Coors family was often innovative in
business, introducing the aluminum beverage can into the American market, but Baum maintains that its elders made some bad
calls, missing opportunities to capture a homegrown market in mineral water and refusing to pasteurize their beer to allow its sale
outside the immediate region. Constantly mired in labor disputes and lawsuits, boycotted by unions and civil-rights groups, the
Coors company nevertheless built a huge national market in the 1970s, helped along by Gerald Ford’s publicly admitted fondness
for the company’s beer. Now publicly held, the Coors company has made efforts to present itself as politically mainstream by
hiring more minority workers, but the changes have only gone so far. As Baum concludes, "Although bludgeoned into becoming
more progressive within the walls of its brewery, the Coors family has chosen to remain committed on the national level to
reversing the racial, sexual, environmental, and social revolutions of the twentieth century"—reason enough for millions of
consumers to insist on boycotting (or buying) the Coors’s brew.
Although the narrative is occasionally plodding, Baum’s history is incendiary, providing fuel for many a political fire.