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Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism


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About the Author

Walter LaFeber is professor of history at Cornell University and the author of The Clash and Inevitable Revolutions.


No, it's not a biography of Jordan, and it's not exactly a company history of Nike, either. Cornell professor LaFeber instead links the two to reveal how capitalism is steamrolling the world.

"A fascinating book on the dynamics of sport, culture and capitalism in an era of American dominance." Time Out

What could be more awe inspiring than the image of Michael JordanÄshaved head shining, tongue waggling, basketball cockedÄhanging in the air as he glides in to dunk? Try global communication technology that allows kids in the Canary Islands to watch NBA games in real time and use the Internet to order Nike shoes so they can be like Mike. In assessing the recently retired star's ascent from basketball phenom to international marketing phenomenon, LaFeber (The Clash, etc.) views Jordan as the harbinger of a new kind of capitalism fueled by information-age media. It's a world in which American transnational companies like Nike have learned to establish brand consciousness with worldwide social and economic impact. Jordan's career corresponded with and was fueled by the emergence of CNN, the Internet and aggressive worldwide marketing. To put Jordan in context, LaFeber links the history of basketball with America's century of economic dominance and writes entertainingly about the development of the sport into a multi-billion-dollar business with licensing spinoffs. He also asks tough questions about Jordan's responsibility as a public figure ("politically neutered," in Arthur Ashe's phrase) and his muted, awkward reaction to Nike's much criticized labor practices in developing countries. Readers who thought that some necessary cultural criticism was missing from David Halberstam's Playing for Keeps (Forecasts, Jan. 18) will find that LaFeber, a Cornell historian, has written the chapter Halberstam neglected and has expanded it into a thought-provoking reflection on the relationship between Jordan and globalization. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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