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Shoe Dog

Phil Knight • 2016

This was better than expected for a hagiographic business memoir!

First off, I learned a lot about Nike. I didn't realize that it had its origins as a shoe reseller (for Onitsuka, no less), nor that its success was so recent.

I also found myself drawn to Knight, whose aw-shucks brand of business acumen — combined with a fierce competitive spirit and just a hint of nationalist fervor — made for an interesting and useful narrator. I would be lying if I didn't see a bit of myself in Knight's early days: Nike was, quite literally, a side project for the first five years of its life, and I could not help but draw some parallels between his quest for having it all and my own.

You can tell that some of this book is rewriting history — and that the ghostwriter went a bit too hammy — but it is still fun to read through. The epilogue is pure soup and melodrama (the three-page aside about the Nike sweatshop controversy should have been left on the cutting room floor), and I think the unwritten thread woven through the entire thing is how little Knight cares about his family.

But I learned a lot and thought a good deal.

7/30/2021
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© 2022 Justin Duke • I hope you're wearing your favorite sweater.