Book Review – Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers


The good folks at Crown Publishing recently reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in receiving a copy of the new book on sneaker history, Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers by Nicholas Smith. I was not previously aware of the book or author, but of course I was intrigued so I said, “Yes, please!”

According to the short blurb about Smith on the book jacket, he is definitely an accomplished writer, but it was clear that he isn’t a lifelongmember member of the sneaker community. All of us “in the culture” are usually skeptical when an outsider comes along and tries to even wear a pair of sneakers, let alone write and entire book about them, so I admit I was curious to see if this would be any good.  The verdict: It is.

It turns out you don’t have to own 500 pairs of shoes or flex on Instagram every day to write a good book about the history of sneakers. Smith proves it with this page-turner that spans from the development of rubber in the mid-1800s all the way to the present day multi-billion dollar sneaker industry. In between, you’ll have fun learning (or brushing up on) all the notable steps along the way, including the invention of basketball by Dr. Naismith; the journey of Chuck Taylor from player to traveling shoe salesman to the most iconic name in sneakers; the story of the rival Dassler brothers before and after parting ways to form adidas and Puma; the birth of Nike with Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight; the early days of hip-hop that helped transition the sneaker from sports performance to streetwear; Reebok’s rise during the aerobics boom of the ’80s, Michael Jordan and Spike Lee, and so much more.

What’s great about this book and Scott’s writing style is that it keeps your interest whether you know nothing about sneakers or already think you know everything. I fall somewhere towards the latter end of that spectrum, and still learned plenty.

Very well researched, easy to read, and thoroughly informing, Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers is definitely worth your time, and I recommend picking up a copy. You can do so via Amazon of course, but I suggest you stop giving more money to Jeff Bezos and go ask for it at your local book store!

**Crown Publishing was also kind enough to give me an extra copy of the book for a giveaway. I’ll be running it until this Friday, May 25. Head over to instagram.com/onfootarchives to enter!**

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