Sneaker Wars

Sneaker Wars

The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport

By Barbara Smit

Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061246579, 400pp.

Publication Date: March 6, 2008


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.

About the Author

Barbara Smit has written for The Financial Times (London), The International Herald Tribune, The Economist, and Time, among other publications. She lives in France.

Praise For Sneaker Wars

“What does David Beckham’s superstardom have to do with a pair of warring Bavarian brothers in the early 1900s? More than you think, according to this compelling book.”
-Time Magazine

“First-class piece of investigative reporting... enthralling narrative tale... invaluable contribution to our understanding of shoes, sports, corruption.”
-David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

“Smit brings a keen reporter’s eye to the schism between Puma and Adidas. The book also ably tells the broader story of the red-hot global sneaker trade.”
-Conde Nast Portfolio

“SNEAKER WARS is great for understanding the ins and out of the industry.”
-Bobbito Garcia

“Barbara Smit deserves high praise.”
-Sunday Telegraph

“As a history of how so much of the world came to be shod in running shoes, SNEAKER WARS is a book you’ll read at a sprint. Drawing from dozens of interviews and stacks of documents, Ms. Smit reconstructs an anecdote-rich history of competition, commercialism and corruption.”
-Wall Street Journal