YA-The rise of Phil Knight and his Nike empire began with his trip to a Japanese shoe factory in 1963. Joined by Bill Bowerman, his old track coach and an inveterate seeker of a better running shoe, he began to import Tiger running shoes and sell them at high-school track meets. In 1966, Bowerman designed his own product, which was made by the Japanese firm, and in 1972 the first Nikes were introduced. Katz examines the enterprise historically, as a cultural phenomenon and as a multimillion-dollar company. Students seeking information about successful businesses in our global economy, marketing, research and development, or retailing will be profitably engaged by this text.-Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
Given the devotion to the product displayed by employees and customers alike, readers of this corporate history of Nike, which is based in Beaverton, Ore., will need to keep reminding themselves that the object of such adoration are athletic shoes (don't call them sneakers). With access to Nike's top executives, including founder Phil Knight, Katz ( Home Fires ) presents a vivid picture of what life is like inside a company that has grown from a small manufacturer of running shoes in the late 1970s to the giant of the athletic shoe industry with annual sales of $4 billion. A key to its growth has been innovative advertising that features well-known sports figures, who through the commercials became even bigger stars. The best-known case in point is Michael Jordan, who soared to mythical proportions on the wings of his basketball talent and Nike commercials, and the Jordan-Nike relationship is a major focus of the book. While Katz does not shy away from discussing the many controversies that have sprung up around Nike--payments to college coaches, a total sports management service for athletes and the use of cheap labor in Southeast Asia--he did have access to Nike officials and produces, on the whole, a pro-Nike spin. Still, Katz's book provides a compelling look at how big-time sports and big business have become intertwined. (June)
Katz (Home Fires, LJ 5/15/92), who spent 17 months among Nike's senior management during a tumultuous period in the company's history, offers a meticulous, well-written report about the high-pressure decision-making behind Nike's famous marketing campaigns. Lamentably, however, he glosses over controversial issues like the substandard wages paid by the company's Third World manufacturing operations. And he declines to draw interpretive conclusions about Nike's domineering influence over college and professional sports management. This lack of critical perspective constitutes a serious flaw in an otherwise diligent work of corporate reportage. Still, readers will find this a more balanced and up-to-date treatment than J.B. Strasser's Swoosh (LJ 1/92). Recommended for general business collections.-A.G. Wright, Harvard Coll. Lib., Cambridge, Mass.