Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes by Amber J. Keyser
Whether you call them kicks or sneakers, runners or gutties, you probably have a pair of athletic shoes in your closet. The earliest sneakers debuted in the 1800s and weren’t much more than a canvas upper and a flexible sole made of a crazy new material―rubber. The stuff might have been new to Americans then, but for thousands of years, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin of South America had been using latex made from the milky sap of hevea trees to protect their feet from rocks, sticks, and biting insects. Once Charles Goodyear figured out how to make the stuff more durable, sneakers were here to stay.
Early sneakers were initially designed for elite athletes, but kids and teens quickly adopted them. Some of the first brands included Converse, Brooks, and Saucony. German companies Adidas and Puma started up during World War II. The Nike shoe debuted in the 1970s (with a bit of inspiration from a waffle iron). As fitness crazes took off in the 1980s, people all over the world started buying the shoes for workouts and everyday wear. At about the same time, companies began hiring high-profile athletes and pop stars for big-dollar endorsements, and shoe sales soared into the stratosphere to the tune of billions of dollars each year.
In Sneaker Century, follow sneaker fashions and the larger-than-life personalities behind the best known athletic shoe brands in history. Learn how teen sneakerheads became important style makers and drove the success of NIKE, Inc., and other shoe companies. Look behind the scenes at the labor-intensive process of manufacturing sneakers. Explore the sneaker frontier of the future―recycled shoes, earth-friendly initiatives, and high-fashion statements. Get ready to speed through the Sneaker Century!
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Table of contents for Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes:
The First Sneakers
From Factories to Recreational Sports
Running toward Gold
Getting Off on the Right Foot
Sneakers on the Streets
Sneakers and the Global Economy
About the author of Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes:
Amber J. Keyser is a former ballerina and evolutionary biologist and the author of fourteen books for teens and tweens. She is the author of multiple nonfiction titles including No More Excuses: Dismantling Rape Culture (2019), Underneath It All: A History of Women’s Underwear (2018), Tying the Knot: A World History of Marriage (2018), and Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes (2015), several of which were Junior Library Guild Selections. She is the co-author with Kiersi Burkhart of the middle grade series Quartz Creek Ranch (Darby Creek, 2017).
“Today it’s a given that shoes of a star athlete are a big deal. But how did we get there? Keyser offers an illuminating synthesis of history, science, commerce, and sports that shows why kicks are where it’s at. It begins way, way back with moccasins―5,500-year-old Armenian artifacts are the oldest known wrapstyle shoes ever found. Fast-forward through the Romans, the popularization of rubber, and the creation of Chuck Taylors, and you end up at the era young readers will be interested in most: the dawn of Adidas, Puma, Nike, and others. Track shoes began the endorsement avalanche, but soon the jogging boom of the 1980s and―of course―Michael Jordan solidified the shoe as the foremost object of athlete identity. The layout and photos are snappy, if a bit short on shots of, well, sneakers. Keyser, however, always does a standout job taking the high-interest topic and giving it depth, never skirting controversies (Nike’s factories in China, the sneaker industry’s alleged out-pricing the very kids who lend the shoes street cred, etc.). This will be popular.” ―Booklist
Title: Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes
Author: Amber J. Keyser
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Published: January 1, 2015
Other Running Shoe Books:
‘True to size’ running shoes | History of Running Shoes | How Often to Change or Replace Running Shoes | Running Shoes Design Features | Sneakers | Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers
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