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Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sports Paperback – March 17, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061246581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061246586
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“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)

“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)

“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)

“Barbara Smit deserves high praise.” (Sunday Telegraph)

“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)

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

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Customer Reviews

It's a VERY detailed account of the origins of Adidas and Puma.
Mushi2Anone
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in business and sports.
Brooklyn Joe
It also seemed to go into irrelevant details and was boring at times.
rs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Blue Roses on May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Between the pages of this book lie the family saga of two brothers who ended up being torn apart due to war, personality and family. There is not really a happy ending although there is reconciliation among the posterity. Developing a better shoe and running a company are not necessarily the same thing as the players find out in this biography of two major shoe giant companies: Adidas and Puma. Although the book was good, it felt tedious and drawn out in place. I'm sure the author was trying to make sure that all the major players were included but maybe some of them should have been left out in the editing process. This was an interesting read into the world of sports and the attire accompanying the players and teams. Look for everyone from the soccer great Pele' to David Beckham and Joe Montana. I did appreciate the thoroughness that the author devoted to this work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Walsh VINE VOICE on January 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Three stripes. Three stars.

Smit bills her book, "Sneaker Wars," as the story of the family and corporate competition behind Puma and Adidas, but this is an Adidas book and the story of the legendary footwear house divided. Brother versus brother. Father versus son. France versus Germany. Old World versus New World.

Smit begins with skeletal biographies of the founding Dassler brothers: Adolf (Adidas) and Rudolf (Puma). The brothers worked and lived together, but after a World War II falling out, Rudolf struck out across the river on his own, and a rivalry was born. It was a rivalry that would play out over 50 years and three generations; but, one that was dominated by the Adidas corporation and the Adidas personalities, and they equally dominate Smit's work.

The book follows the Adi/Rudolf split and then move on to the division that emerges within Adidas as Adi's son, Horst, sets up a subsidiary - if often antagonistic - France-based branch. Horst cuts his own deals, sets up his own side businesses to inflate his bottom line, and provides the hustle that takes Adidas from a European sporting goods outfitter to a global fashion empire. But, remaining closely-held for many years by some combination of Dassler family members and confidantes, Adidas is a multi-million dollar conglomerate often operating on a shoestring. The family dynamic provides the arc of conflict that sustains Smit's narrative, and her gracious portrayal of Horst Dassler as a visionary 21st century kind of global businessman in a still-flat world is the center of gravity that grounds the meat of the book's middle portion.

Horst emerges as an almost surreal character: gifted and tireless, but perhaps less than ideal in his moral approach to family and business.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katie in WA on August 31, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great read for anyone interested in the evolution of sports marketing.....
I have six competitive brothers, but the Dassler boys take the cake when it comes to being creative and vindictive with one another. Fascinating!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carl B. on April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Although it wasn't a very important part of the book, the details on the Run DMC account were blatantly wrong. The song came first; Anastasio went to Madison Square Garden to see the act after some convincing. The story accounted in the book is completely backwards. It made me doubt much of the history, especially in the first half of the book. Definitely revealed the political and biased nature of the book. Interesting account of sneaker history, but maybe shouldn't be read too literally.
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High school and college often found me in the three stripes. I realised the brand had reached some very high standing when it was picked up by the Yankees, and when the band Korn offered their own take on the name “Adidas”.

It wasn’t until I researched the company, though, that I realised it was named after its founder, ADI DASsler, and as part of that research, I picked up a book entitled “Sneaker Wars” by Barbara Smit.

Yogi Berra might say “You’re never impressed with the things you don’t know until you know you know them…” and this book was certainly an eye-opener. Far more than just a book about sneakers, it details not only the history of Adi Dassler’s company for almost seventy years, it also provides a history of his brother Rudi’s company, Puma, for the same time. It also takes a look at the sports and sports-marketing industries as they’ve grown from their beginnings over the last half-century.

Starting in World War II Germany with Adi and his brother, the book details their early beginnings and the rift that eventually caused Puma to form in competition with Adidas. This rift was never healed, and the two brothers remained competitors for their entire lives. Their families continued the tradition well into the early 2000s, and the book chronicles this through the successes and failures of the particular companies. Adidas is well-known to have been the more successful (though it certainly had its share of failures), but the book does conclude with the recent successes that both companies have enjoyed, including the significant turn-around that Puma has achieved after it was all but gone in the 70s.

It’s stunning to learn the details behind the various deals that went on in the sports world of the last fifty years.
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