Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World is the first full-length biography of an extraordinary American. More than just the man who brought us the blue jean, Levi Strauss contributed to the rise of modern San Francisco and created a philanthropic legacy that his descendants and his company still follow today.


“Levi Strauss is an important business figure in American history. Ms. Downey’s account of his life features deep research that creates vivid details. She brings to light his philanthropy and role in building San Francisco and California while selling the world on the product named for him, ‘Levi’s.'”
—Michael J. Makley, author of The Infamous King of the Comstock: William Sharon and the Gilded Age in the West

“Downey offers us a compelling story of  migration, family solidarity, Jewish enterprise networks and the emergence of a marketing empire that spans two centuries, from the nineteenth through the twenty-first. This is a story of California, the nation, and indeed the world, stitched together on a pair of blue jeans. A drama that stretches across the Atlantic and the North American continent, Levi Strauss combines the histories of the Jewish people, Bavaria, California, and the United States and should be read by those interested in how the right combination of place and time, of luck and skill combined to change the world.”
—Hasia R. Diner, author of Roads Taken: The Great Jewish Migrations to New Worlds and the Peddlers Who Forged the Way

“There’s a lot of history in those jeans you’re wearing. As Lynn Downey’s wonderfully readable book tells us.”
—Michael Green, author of Nevada: A History of the Silver State

“This enthralling story tells of the genesis, not only of a landmark item of clothing, but of a dream, an ethos, a world-changing mentality. Levi Strauss is a beautifully penned depiction of a man who, in his amazing journey across cultures and continents, is truly the quintessential American.”
—Paul Trynka, author of Starman and From Cowboys to Catwalks

“Riveting!”  —Robert J. Chandler, author of San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown

“A joy to read. While the book goes well beyond blue jeans, it is a must for any true denim enthusiast. Downey weaves a fascinating tale that dispels many of the shockingly prevalent myths about jeans. It is a pivotal new resource for the history of blue jeans.”
—Emma McClendon, author of Denim: Fashion’s Frontier

“Former Levi Strauss & Co. historian Downey faced a difficult task in writing this biography: almost all of the company’s records were lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and few of founder Levi Strauss’s personal papers remain, probably due to the same cause (Strauss died in 1902). The author makes good use of newspaper interviews with Strauss and a handful of personal reminiscences about him by others. Mostly, the book, which is as much a history of the company during its founder’s lifetime as it is of Strauss himself, relates the businessman/philanthropist’s activities. Strauss comes across as an excellent businessman with an affable and modest personality, a bachelor who lived primarily with his extended family. He was socially concerned and active in the Jewish community, and both Jewish and non-Jewish institutions were recipients of his philanthropy. VERDICT While not providing a full or rich portrait of Levi Strauss’s personality, this solid business history will appeal to those interested in the history of commerce, California, or American Jewry.” Library Journal

Levi Strauss reveals the inspiring story of a man who ultimately transformed modern fashion. It is a quintessential immigrant story with fascinating insights into American history.”