Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers

by Nicholas Smith | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 9780451498120 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 1/28/2023
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, January 28, 2023
I got this softcover at a local Barnes and Noble, intrigued at a history of sneakers. (When I was a kid in the early '60s, my shoe of choice was Keds - which do get their own section in this book. I never got into the celebrity-named shoe styles, and while I often wear some form of athletic shoe now, it's usually the most comfortable and not-too-elaborate kind that I can find on sale at TJ Maxx {wry grin}.)

The book itself really impressed me, for its thorough and entertaining - if sometimes tragic - coverage of the origins of the sneaker as a concept and then of the major producers, from the German brothers who created rival companies Puma and Adidas, on to Nike and Converse and Keds and more.

The author pulls in various cultural aspects of sneakers, as related to societal and cultural shifts, as well as technological and social-media-based changes - the cult of celebrity as it applies to shoes did exist before the internet, but spiraled once there was the option to go viral. [That came with drawbacks - the author does cite some of the horrifying cases of young people committing robbery and even murder over particularly-desired shoes...]

The earlier history has to do with several aspects of producing a soft-sole shoe that would hold up: the development of vulcanized rubber was an early step, one that's summed up here but could easily fill books on its own, and from there the methods for attaching uppers to the soles, for producing shoes in quantity, and eventually for finding ways to provide the increasing number of colors and styles that customers wanted - all that's part of the history of this footgear.

Amusing tidbits: the author says that the first sneaker (as defined here) was made for... croquet, to protect the croquet lawns from the sturdier, harsher shoes normally worn. Quite a leap from there to the basketball shoe (the next major leap in sneaker-tech)! Oh, and there's an incident where a skateboarder wore a pair of rare, in-demand sneakers - not realizing the market value - until a passerby noticed the holes worn into the shoes from the skateboarding side effects and yelled at the wearer for destroying them...

The book touches on the dark side of Big Business, especially when it's allied with professional sports; the bold decision by Nike to ally with the not-yet-a-superstar Michael Jordan; even the influence of tennis' bad-boy John McEnroe on a new cross-trainer style by Nike.

While the book might sound like more than you wanted to know about sneakers, I found it quite fascinating and well put-together.

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, February 4, 2023

Released 1 mo ago (2/4/2023 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I'm adding this to the Biographies of Things bookbox. (The bookbox journal includes my selections and replacements.) Hope someone enjoys it!

Journal Entry 3 by winghaahaahaa98wing at Watertown, Massachusetts USA on Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Looking forward to reading about shoes and feet! :)

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