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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 – Illustrated, March 17, 2009
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“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
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.
- ASIN : 0061246581
- Publisher : Ecco; Illustrated edition (March 17, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #122,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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It's not a quick read, but it's interesting enough to have me reading a few pages here and there when there's time (and if I could disappear for a few days, I'd spend more time with this book!). It's a good book.
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. With back-room deals, envelopes of cash paid to athletes, family squabbles, and corporate upheavals, the book reads almost as if it could easily be adapted for soap opera television. Not content with merely company history or the dealings of just the sneaker industry, it is also a treatise on the creation of the sports-marketing industry, and a very thorough one at that. The latter is provided mostly through the lens of the life of Horst Dassler, Adi’s son, who was responsible for a large majority of how sports-marketing is done today. Rightly painting Horst Dassler as a one-man fire-brand, it shows how he and the companies he formed are largely responsible for much of the marketing and broadcasting we associate with sports today. It continues past this, and details how the companies we know of today (Adidas, Puma, Nike, Reebok, etc.) have fought their battles in an attempt to gain both market- and mind-share.
Having read this book, I’ll not be able to watch a sporting event in the same way again, now knowing exactly what went into creating those brands and the marketing associated with them. The author compiled the book over the course of five years, and her writing style takes advantage of the extensive research and obvious access to first-person material. My only complaint is that it is a bit dry at times. However, it does allow one to marvel at the intrigue that was present, but largely unknown, in the sports and sports-marketing worlds, and behind some of the most successful brands in history.
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Swoosh tells a similar sort of story about Nike and I'd recommend that too.