The Sneaker Book

Anatomy of an Industry and an Icon

An entertaining and informative examination of the economic and cultural factors behind the exploding popularity of sneakers in America

“How the lowly, utilitarian sneaker became a fashion statement, a pillar of fortunes, a fulcrum of exploitation and an object of theft is one of the revelatory tales of our time, and no one who seeks to unravel it should be without this smart, witty, well-informed, properly passionate book.” —Todd Gitlin, author of Twilight of Common Dreams

Sneakers have gone—seemingly overnight—from being childhood summer staples to serious athletic instruments to full-fledged lifestyle accoutrements, but the transition is hazy. Just when and why did America (and the world) go sneaker crazy?

The Sneaker Book is an entertaining, informative look at this fascinating, $11-billion-a-year industry. How (and by whom) are sneakers made? Where does your money go when you buy a pair? Who are the companies behind the logos? Why is Nike heralded by economists and lampooned by Doonesbury?

Jammed full of facts, figures, cartoons by Garry Trudeau and Mark Alan Stamaty, and literary excerpts about sneakers from Tom Wolfe, Paul Beatty, Leslie Savan, Spike Lee, Ray Bradbury, and many more, The Sneaker Book swooshes past the hype, puts the numbers on the table, and takes a fresh look at familiar—if unexamined—footwear.


“What brilliant fun and insight this book provides—a friendly, provocative sketch of the neo-imperial sneaker and how its powers of fantasy conquered hearts and minds, then the world.”
—William Greider, author of One World, Ready or Not
“While Tom Vanderbilt is always funny, iconoclastic, and penetrating, The Sneaker Book is no laughing matter. In this harrowing sprint around the global track of corporate capital, Vanderbilt reveals a world of exploitation, greed, and insanity Charles Dickens himself could not have dreamed up.”
—Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Yo’ Mama’s Dis Funktional!

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