Book Review: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

January 31, 2018 6:20 PM | Deleted user

Book Review by Brady Holmer, FTC and TeamFTC member, Graduate Research Assistant, Integrative Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory, University of Florida

When I lace up a pair of Nike Air Pegasus, rarely do I think about the origin - the history, of what I'm putting on my feet. That all changed after reading "Shoe Dog" - in more ways than one. Nike shoes are not just pieces of rubber and cloth upper - but a story of a man who transformed an industry.


From page one, Phil Knight took me on a journey with him, beginning with Blue Ribbon Sports and continuing with his many fateful and sometimes unbelievable interactions with international tycoons. His lucky breaks are sometimes unbelievable (some may call it fate?) Did you know the name "Blue Ribbon" was essentially plucked out of thin air by Knight - after he was probed by Japanese businessmen about the name of his company on a trip overseas?


The best aspect of the book is Knight's ability to interweave his own love of running, his desire for perfection in sport and in life, with the shoe company he was similarly trying to perfect. Original shoe ideas came from experimentation literally, on his own two feet. Knight knew what runners and athletes would want from a sportswear company, and his memoir provides every last detail on how he made this a reality. It makes one wonder whether Nike would be the company it is today without a founder who was once as obsessed with his own performance as he was with that of his company.


At many points, I felt Knight’s anxiety and fear for the future of his company, despite knowing the outcome. The times he was out of money, short on time. But that is the art of a true story teller; one who is able to take you deep into their story and make you forget about how it unfolds, just for the moment.


Oh. And the little “moments of Zen” sprinkled throughout “Shoe Dog” provide only more reason to appreciate Knight for the wise man he is.


“I remembered that the best way to reinforce your knowledge of a subject is to share it.”

Thanks for the book review, Brady! Do you have a running book you would like to see reviewed or have read a book you would like to recommend to the FTC?  Email us at

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