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Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport

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The fascinating story of the enemy brothers behind Adidas and Puma, whose rivalry shaped the modern sports business Adidas and Puma are two of the biggest global brands in sports, paying stars, clubs, and competitions to show off their labels in stadiums and across magazine pages. In Sneaker Wars, journalist Barbara Smit reveals the dramatic, character-driven story of these The fascinating story of the enemy brothers behind Adidas and Puma, whose rivalry shaped the modern sports business Adidas and Puma are two of the biggest global brands in sports, paying stars, clubs, and competitions to show off their labels in stadiums and across magazine pages. In Sneaker Wars, journalist Barbara Smit reveals the dramatic, character-driven story of these two power-houses. Started in their mother's laundry room in Germany, Adi and Rudi Dassler's shoe business was an instant success, their spikes worn by Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics. But a vicious feud soon pulled them apart: by the end of World War II, the brothers split the company, dividing their family and hometown. Adidas and Puma revolutionized the world of sport, their rivalry introducing behind-the-scenes deals and multimillion-dollar contracts. From Pelé to Joe Namath, Walt Frazier to Boris Becker, Muhammad Ali to David Beckham, they all contribute to the roller-coaster rise, near collapse, and revival of the two brands. A page-turning narrative, Sneaker Wars is a riveting blend of family drama, business, sports, and history.


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The fascinating story of the enemy brothers behind Adidas and Puma, whose rivalry shaped the modern sports business Adidas and Puma are two of the biggest global brands in sports, paying stars, clubs, and competitions to show off their labels in stadiums and across magazine pages. In Sneaker Wars, journalist Barbara Smit reveals the dramatic, character-driven story of these The fascinating story of the enemy brothers behind Adidas and Puma, whose rivalry shaped the modern sports business Adidas and Puma are two of the biggest global brands in sports, paying stars, clubs, and competitions to show off their labels in stadiums and across magazine pages. In Sneaker Wars, journalist Barbara Smit reveals the dramatic, character-driven story of these two power-houses. Started in their mother's laundry room in Germany, Adi and Rudi Dassler's shoe business was an instant success, their spikes worn by Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics. But a vicious feud soon pulled them apart: by the end of World War II, the brothers split the company, dividing their family and hometown. Adidas and Puma revolutionized the world of sport, their rivalry introducing behind-the-scenes deals and multimillion-dollar contracts. From Pelé to Joe Namath, Walt Frazier to Boris Becker, Muhammad Ali to David Beckham, they all contribute to the roller-coaster rise, near collapse, and revival of the two brands. A page-turning narrative, Sneaker Wars is a riveting blend of family drama, business, sports, and history.

30 review for Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport

  1. 4 out of 5

    eRin

    I'm not particularly interested in sports, business, or fashion. So it's odd that I picked up this book, since it focuses entirely on the aforementioned topics. I do, however, enjoy the Olympics and a good story--and that's what this book delivers. What is amazing to me after reading this book is how much of an impact one single family has had on the entire sports world. They may not have invented sports, but they certainly reinvented them. All because of one quiet man who liked to make shoes. Ad I'm not particularly interested in sports, business, or fashion. So it's odd that I picked up this book, since it focuses entirely on the aforementioned topics. I do, however, enjoy the Olympics and a good story--and that's what this book delivers. What is amazing to me after reading this book is how much of an impact one single family has had on the entire sports world. They may not have invented sports, but they certainly reinvented them. All because of one quiet man who liked to make shoes. Adi Dessler enjoyed coming up with new and inventive shoe designs and enlisted his brother to sell them. The brothers, however, had very vocal and public disagreements which led to the end of their relationship, both private and business. Adi, the man who liked to make shoes, called his company Adidas; and Rudolph, the man who liked to sell shoes, called his company Puma. The descendants of these two men continued the family business and one in particular changed the entire face of sports by introducing corporate sponsorships at the Olympics as well as all other major international sporting competitions. The story is too complex to adequately summarize; and some of the business talk nearly put me to sleep. But at the base of the story is a man who simply liked to make shoes. And his legacy has a massive influence on the sporting world today.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Houssam Bousadik

    Not the most glamorous book out there, but for sure a very insightful and informative one ! It is about the creation of the two shoes and apparel brands Puma and Adidas from a family feud, to the rough and sometime shady competition between the two german giants, to their demise and the factors that propelled them to the backseat of the industry to competitors like Nike and Reebok. Barbara Smit made sure to be as factual as one could possibly be, while each time giving the different circumstances Not the most glamorous book out there, but for sure a very insightful and informative one ! It is about the creation of the two shoes and apparel brands Puma and Adidas from a family feud, to the rough and sometime shady competition between the two german giants, to their demise and the factors that propelled them to the backseat of the industry to competitors like Nike and Reebok. Barbara Smit made sure to be as factual as one could possibly be, while each time giving the different circumstances and context leading to the different events in the book. But by doing so, so many parts imo are easily skippable and have no added value in the book, to name only a few : - Many characters were introduced in the books just to be dropped in the next sentence and never be heard about. ( Was it really necessary to cite the names of all the prisoners with Rudolf Dassler who were detained by the americans ? ) - In one chapter where the point was to prove how Horst outwitted Armin by growing a solid network and connections among sport big names, Barbara went on for 20 pages and around 20ish different names ( Horst knew this, and that and this one and that one ... ). So i skimmed through the pages and i said ... so yeah, Horst is a very connected man ! The book is more than a mere sport history book : it is a business, administration, operation and logistics, finance, corporate strategy and of course sport history all at once. So if you're a Football / Michael Jordan / Tennis fan, or just someone who is interested in some sports history, or just a casual reader who wants some corporate teachings and wisdom ..... this book is for you !

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    Boring!

  4. 5 out of 5

    David Ball

    I did not know that the sports shoe empires, Adidas and Puma, were both founded in a small town in Germany (Herzogenaurach) by the two brothers, Adolf and Rudolph Dassler. I do now, thanks to Pitch Invasion. The Adidas story is the main focus of the book - particularly the life of Horst Dassler, the son of the Adolf the founder of Adidas. Horst is cast away from the family’s home base in Germany to run Adidas France which he builds into a rival conglomerate which competes with and eventually ecl I did not know that the sports shoe empires, Adidas and Puma, were both founded in a small town in Germany (Herzogenaurach) by the two brothers, Adolf and Rudolph Dassler. I do now, thanks to Pitch Invasion. The Adidas story is the main focus of the book - particularly the life of Horst Dassler, the son of the Adolf the founder of Adidas. Horst is cast away from the family’s home base in Germany to run Adidas France which he builds into a rival conglomerate which competes with and eventually eclipses his parent’s company. He then starts up one of the first sports marketing companies and ends up controlling the two biggest sporting events in the world: World Cup and the Olympics. On one level, Horst’s story is an interesting case study of how to build a global business through force of personality and networking; but with favours earned through lavish gifts and five star treatment, its a dodgy business model both ethically and fiscally. Unsurprisingly, both Adidas and Puma eventually undergo financial difficulties and the founding families lose control when professional investors are brought in. I struggled to feel much sympathy for the Dasslers though: their business tactics corrupted sports and built an entire industry based on selling overpriced shoes to the image conscious - which I think is partly to blame for the vapid consumerism that now plagues western society. Published in 2006, the story sort of peters out after Horst dies in the late 1980s. In the intervening years it appears that Puma has essentially disappeared while Adidas has gone from strength to strength. An updated epilogue would be useful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Cain

    This is an interesting look at the history of Adidas & Puma, and I especially enjoyed the description of the founding of the companies as well as some of the early shenanigans with under-the-table endorsement payments to amateur Olympic athletes. The book is a bit uneven, jumps around in time and space, and lacks an consistent narrative thread - it seems more like a series of snapshots once you get past the more compelling narrative of the early years. The author gives disproportionate attention This is an interesting look at the history of Adidas & Puma, and I especially enjoyed the description of the founding of the companies as well as some of the early shenanigans with under-the-table endorsement payments to amateur Olympic athletes. The book is a bit uneven, jumps around in time and space, and lacks an consistent narrative thread - it seems more like a series of snapshots once you get past the more compelling narrative of the early years. The author gives disproportionate attention to Adidas over Puma, and the second half seems less a history of either company and the personalities involved than a somewhat dry description of management changes and financing arrangements. This might have been better presented as long-form magazine journalism rather than book format. Overall though, it is a quick and easy read and a good introduction into business history and marketing evolution of the sport footwear and apparel industry.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    At one point, Adidas was an international power, on par with some mid-sized country. This book talks about how Adidas controlled the Olympics, did business with the Soviets during the cold war and controlled international sports using little brown envelops of cash and big checks. Even though it focuses on Adidas and Puma, Nike is the real hero of this book. It's amazing how Nike went from being a shoe that the Adidas executives tossed over their shoulders out of disrespect to dominating the world At one point, Adidas was an international power, on par with some mid-sized country. This book talks about how Adidas controlled the Olympics, did business with the Soviets during the cold war and controlled international sports using little brown envelops of cash and big checks. Even though it focuses on Adidas and Puma, Nike is the real hero of this book. It's amazing how Nike went from being a shoe that the Adidas executives tossed over their shoulders out of disrespect to dominating the world that Adidas and Puma invented.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    A very good biography of the Dassler Family : Adidas and Puma. The two respective brothers Adolfh (Adi) and Rudolf (Rudi) that started the Dassler Shoe Company in their mother's washroom. From there, the brothers had a falling out and they both went their both ways : Adidas and Puma and the strain and toll on the respective families. The book also discusses sports, business and politics and how they both are intertwined with one another, as well as corruption and bribery. Good subjects on other A very good biography of the Dassler Family : Adidas and Puma. The two respective brothers Adolfh (Adi) and Rudolf (Rudi) that started the Dassler Shoe Company in their mother's washroom. From there, the brothers had a falling out and they both went their both ways : Adidas and Puma and the strain and toll on the respective families. The book also discusses sports, business and politics and how they both are intertwined with one another, as well as corruption and bribery. Good subjects on other rivalry shoe companies, such as Reebok and Nike. Well-written by Ms.Barbara Smit.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Interesting look at sneakers and international business, which seems filled with scum. The sports writing parts are off but thankfully sparse. Gets a little gushy towards some of the CEO types but pretty compelling all in all.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I read this book after completing Phil Knight's book, Shoedog. This book is about the roller-coaster ride of Adidas with snippets on Puma. The beginning of the book focused mainly on the brothers and family issues which I didn't find too compelling as my intention for reading the book was to learn more about the perspective of Adidas and Puma in relation to Nike and other competitors. Once, the author moved on from the family issues, I found it difficult to put the book down. This compelling boo I read this book after completing Phil Knight's book, Shoedog. This book is about the roller-coaster ride of Adidas with snippets on Puma. The beginning of the book focused mainly on the brothers and family issues which I didn't find too compelling as my intention for reading the book was to learn more about the perspective of Adidas and Puma in relation to Nike and other competitors. Once, the author moved on from the family issues, I found it difficult to put the book down. This compelling book provided an insight into business not only from the point of retail and shoes, but also for business as a whole industry. I also found it fascinating to read the perspectives of 3 companies (Puma, Adidas & NIke) when they were all competing with each-other and the lengths they went to be number one. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Sneaker Wars and would recommend to anyone interested in reading about company history and different views on building businesses.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Enzo Williams

    Adidas History Pitch Invasion: Adidas Puma and the Making of Modern Sport On a cold but sunny day last month, a stream of nervous-looking players, male and female, ran on to a football pitch in the southern Germantown of Herzogenaurach. The match was an attempt to heal the wounds of a bitter family argument that has split the town for 60 years – and fuelled the fortunes of two of the world's most powerful sporting brands. This is Adidas History. "The split between the Dassler brothers was to Herzo Adidas History Pitch Invasion: Adidas Puma and the Making of Modern Sport On a cold but sunny day last month, a stream of nervous-looking players, male and female, ran on to a football pitch in the southern Germantown of Herzogenaurach. The match was an attempt to heal the wounds of a bitter family argument that has split the town for 60 years – and fuelled the fortunes of two of the world's most powerful sporting brands. This is Adidas History. "The split between the Dassler brothers was to Herzogenaurach what the building of the Berlin Wall was for the German capital," says local journalist Rolf-Herbert Peters. Except that, whereas the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, the antagonism between Adidas and Puma is still obvious to any outsider visiting the town. I also read their is a movie that was made of this book. https://pinoyathletics.info/adidas-hi...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Robb

    The beginning of this book was quite interesting. If the entire book had been like the beginning, I would have rated it much higher overall. I enjoyed hearing about the Dassler brothers and how their family got into sneakers. I didn't enjoy the brothers fighting that led to the split into Puma and Adidas brands, but that part of the story was still interesting. The middle of the story was okay. It got a little confusing for me with all the children and children of children and trying to remember The beginning of this book was quite interesting. If the entire book had been like the beginning, I would have rated it much higher overall. I enjoyed hearing about the Dassler brothers and how their family got into sneakers. I didn't enjoy the brothers fighting that led to the split into Puma and Adidas brands, but that part of the story was still interesting. The middle of the story was okay. It got a little confusing for me with all the children and children of children and trying to remember which ones went with which family. There were a lot of machinations to get contracts and other things that probably weren't so legal. The end of the story of Puma was sad and of Adidas even sadder. But by the end of the book, I almost didn't care anymore what happened to Adidas. No, make that I didn't care about what happened to Adidas.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ROBERT

    4.5 This was a great book. The story of the beginnings and growth of Adidas and Puma from a family feud. Nice nostalgia trip because it discusses sport figures that I grew up cheering for. Great blending of sports and the growth of sport shoe businesses. Even though it starts with Adidas and Puma, the War of the Sneakers expanded to include the beginnings and growth of Nike, Reebock and other shoe companies. Lots of fascinating personalities were involved. If you liked Shoe Dogs by Phil Knight, I t 4.5 This was a great book. The story of the beginnings and growth of Adidas and Puma from a family feud. Nice nostalgia trip because it discusses sport figures that I grew up cheering for. Great blending of sports and the growth of sport shoe businesses. Even though it starts with Adidas and Puma, the War of the Sneakers expanded to include the beginnings and growth of Nike, Reebock and other shoe companies. Lots of fascinating personalities were involved. If you liked Shoe Dogs by Phil Knight, I think you will love Sneaker Wars as well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vidya

    Fascinating history of an iconic brand, the personalities that shaped the twists and turns, the various evolutions of these companies’ businesses and the modernization of the business of sports (I am beyond fascinated with the business of sports, if you aren’t interested, this may not be for you). Also a crazy cast of characters. Was nice to read about this era of the genius Rob Strasser as a complement to Shoe Dog. Highly recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meagan Riordan

    An in-depth and well-written of the titans of sports equipment and apparel. Their history very much influences how they operate today. The 2 brothers and their differences and fallout paved the way for these 2 titans of the sports industry. It is triumphant, upsetting, devious, and cut-throat. Just like sports. 10/10

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Lysen

    I was really only interested in the Dassler family and how the companies of Adidas and Puma began, which i believe is truly fascinating, especially as Adolf and Rudolph’s rivalry seems to mirror WWII. That story mostly finished about a third through the book. The rest is about the business behemoth adidas became and it’s history after that, which I don’t really find all that interesting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kunal Anand

    The story of the two brothers and their family, the story of Puma and Adidas with side-characters of Nike and Reebok. Not a very heavy read. If you would like to know about the two brands, it is a good read. Covers a lot of the little known businesses that Adidas family was involved in, which shaped the current sports-entertainment culture.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I recommend this book to anyone who has first read "Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight. I can't believe I am reading books about shoes, but both of these books were very interesting to me. Phil's memoir is the best, but this book adds to and continues that narrative. I recommend this book to anyone who has first read "Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight. I can't believe I am reading books about shoes, but both of these books were very interesting to me. Phil's memoir is the best, but this book adds to and continues that narrative.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Deck

    Pretty solid read. Fun rivalry between brothers that developed into two competing international giants. Less narrative and more business focused than “Shoe Dog” about Phil Knight, but really good read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Timi

    I enjoyed every bits of this book. If you want a comprehensive read about Sports' sneakers and wears, the behind the scenes politics and the business side, this is your book. I only hope there are no bad bloods between the two new owners today. I enjoyed every bits of this book. If you want a comprehensive read about Sports' sneakers and wears, the behind the scenes politics and the business side, this is your book. I only hope there are no bad bloods between the two new owners today.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelvin

    It was very interesting. I didn’t know anything about the world of sports, or even what Puma was! This book describes the ups and downs of the sports business, and how the Dasslers changed it forever.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It was ok. Thought it would be more fun, more family drama, more about endorsement deals but it was very focused on business and numbers and investors. Not my thing. Worth a read though if you like that stuff.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Williams

    Very informative book about the history and rivalry between two very stylish iconic sneaker brands. These two styles were neighborhood competitors throughout NYC in the 70s and 80s. Still cool to the day. BROTHERS, oh snap! Get the real story here

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karthigeyan Illancheran

    felt like reading a history book on sports companies. tiring read most parts.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dondi Ligon (ghost writer)

    The hardest played game behind hard-played games.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Arturo Lucero Espitia

    Not my kind of book. It focuses on the family and business issues based on their relationships and tricks each company used over time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark Maddock

    Tremendous book giving a great insight into the history and driving force of Adidas, Puma and latterly Nike.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bailey

    Very informative and an interesting story but was dry at times and definitely leaned towards Adidas than Puma.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Siva Prasad Tripuraneni

    Gripping story of Adidas and Puma. It includes all the information from the roots of the businesses along with politics and money of sporting industry.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jonny Brick

    Business-minded book about two rival sports brands set up by different brothers. Great on the 1970s and the way they used TV for their gain.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jorge Aguirre

    I had high expectations and was disappointed. It's not a knock on the author. I wish there was more content on Puma. It heavily favored Adidas. I appreciate the history behind these two sporting companies. It's a shame Adi and Rudolf couldn't reconcile. I had high expectations and was disappointed. It's not a knock on the author. I wish there was more content on Puma. It heavily favored Adidas. I appreciate the history behind these two sporting companies. It's a shame Adi and Rudolf couldn't reconcile.

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