The fascinating story of the enemy brothers behind Adidas and Puma, whose rivalry shaped the modern sports business
Adidas and Puma are two of the biggest global brands in sports, paying stars, clubs, and competitions to show off their labels in stadiums and across magazine pages.
In Sneaker Wars, journalist Barbara Smit reveals the dramatic, character-driven story of these two power-houses. Started in their mother's laundry room in Germany, Adi and Rudi Dassler's shoe business was an instant success, their spikes worn by Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics. But a vicious feud soon pulled them apart: by the end of World War II, the brothers split the company, dividing their family and hometown.
Adidas and Puma revolutionized the world of sport, their rivalry introducing behind-the-scenes deals and multimillion-dollar contracts. From Pelé to Joe Namath, Walt Frazier to Boris Becker, Muhammad Ali to David Beckham, they all contribute to the roller-coaster rise, near collapse, and revival of the two brands. A page-turning narrative, Sneaker Wars is a riveting blend of family drama, business, sports, and history.
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Barbara Smit has written for The Financial Times (London), The International Herald Tribune, The Economist, and Time, among other publications. She lives in France.From Publishers Weekly:
It's a long road between the Nazi spectacle of Adolf Hitler's 1936 Olympic Games in Munich and the media frenzy of David Beckham's 2007 move to Los Angeles, but there has been one constant during the intervening years of athletic history-sports shoes. This book traces the evolution of Gebrüder Dassler, a Bavarian shoe company founded by two brothers whose vicious feud led to the creation of two rival, iconic businesses: Adidas and Puma. Smit, an international business journalist, delivers a fascinating story of the complicated intrigues in the lives of both companies, as well as the founders and their descendants. The tale encompasses almost ever major sports figure in modern times, from Jesse Owens, (who wore Dassler shoes during the 1936 Games, unaware that the two brothers were members of the Nazi Party), to basketball legend Walt Frazier, whose signature Puma "Clydes" sold "well over one million pairs throughout the Seventies," kick starting the sports shoe-as-fashion statement trend. Overall, Smit provides a necessary account of how the growth in sports-related businesses has moved athletics "from jolly amateurism to unapologetic greed."
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