The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger - Second Edition with a new chapter by the author 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition
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"Ingenious analysis of the phenomenon of containerism."---Stefan Stern, Financial Times
"For sheer originality . . . [this book] by Marc Levinson, is hard to beat. The Box explains how the modern era of globalization was made possible, not by politicians agreeing to cut trade tariffs and quotas, but by the humble shipping container."---David Smith, The Sunday Times
"The Box reveals the subject to be interesting and powerful, shedding light on all kinds of issues, from the role of trade unions to the Vietnam War.", NUMAST Telegraph
"Mr Levinson. . . . makes a strong case that it was McLean's thinking that led to modern-day containerisation. It altered the economics of shipping and with that the flow of world trade. Without the container, there would be no globalization.", The Economist
"The Box is . . . an engrossing read. . . . The book is well-written, with detailed notes and an index. I found it absorbing and informative from the first page."---Graham Williams, Sydney Morning Herald
"This is a smoothly written history of the ocean shipping container. . . . Marc Levinson turns it into a fascinating economic history of the last 50 years that helps us to understand globalization and industrial growth in North America."---Harvey Schachter, Globe and Mail
"[A] smart, engaging book. . . . Mr. Levinson makes a persuasive case that the container has been woefully underappreciated. . . . [T]he story he tells is that of a classic disruptive technology: the world worked in one fashion before the container came onto the scene, and in a completely different fashion after it took hold."---Joe Nocera, The New York Times
"International trade . . . owes its exponential growth to something utterly ordinary and overlooked, says author Marc Levinson: the metal shipping container.... The Box makes a strong argument. . . . Levinson . . . spins yarns of the men who fought to retain the old On the Waterfront ways and of those who made the box ubiquitous."---Michael Arndt, BusinessWeek
"Marc Levinson's The Box is . . . broad-ranging and . . . readable. It describes not just the amazing course of the container-ship phenomenon but the turmoil of human affairs in its wake."---Bob Simmons, The Seattle Times --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- File Size : 2201 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 531 pages
- Publication Date : April 5, 2016
- Publisher : Princeton University Press; 2nd Edition (April 5, 2016)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B01772PS00
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #115,037 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book delves into these issues and explores the many ramifications of the evolution of container shipping upon the economic, political and financial impact of the system. Fascinating stuff and I would have rated the book higher but it tends to be dry, repetitive stuff and at times the chapters seemed more like sequential essays than a book. You know it may be a bit too on the scholarly side when your kindle indicates that you are only 60% finished when you finish the last chapter. The remaining 40%? Notes, bibliography, and index. So, looking a for a very thorough examination of the topic? This is your tome.
But the book provides an interesting overview of the early-mid days as the shipping container standardized, changed the nature of ports as well as the ships themselves, and made and broke many different companies in a field where fortunes could be made and lost based on a single wrong decision about the way development would occur.
Until the mid 1960s, ocean freight was transported in breakbulk ships; the cargo manually jammed into the ships' holds by teams of longshoremen. The process was laborious and time consuming. Major port cities like New York and London were structured around their docks, with factories near their ports to minimise the costs involved with the multiple handling and warehousing involved in transporting goods.
Then, a few pioneers started trying to move freight in containers. Within a few short decades, containers revolutionised world trade. Containers of goods could be seamlessly moved from a factory, between trucks, trains, and ships to customers. Where once it may have taken months to ship a product from the US to Europe, it can now take less than a week. Global trade skyrocketed!
Nobody predicted the enormous impact that containers were to have on the global economy. Once, firms concentrated their factories in one location to minimise transport costs. With the advent of fast, cheap and reliable container shipping, component manufacture was farmed out around the world to the cheapest supplier. The structures of port cities changed drastically, with whole longshore communities being destroyed, and factories moving to where land was cheap. Of course, countries in Asia soon became major manufacturing powers.
Top reviews from other countries
The author spins a great story of the evolution of shipping. In days gone by, boats would come into harbour with all sorts of stuff randomly placed on board. Unloading took days. Many workers were employed unloading items. This offered both advantages (everyone could see what exactly was onboard reducing the chance of illegal goods) and disadvantages (everyone could see what was onboard so people often stole valuable items).
The development of the shipping container was excellent for reducing shipping costs and times. It was a primary driver on why your t-shirts and sweaters are now made in Asia rather than closer to home. The shipping costs went from dollars to a few cents. Not only have jobs been lost in the country but also in the harbour. Men are no longer needed to do the tough work down the docks. Unions were formed to try and stop the wave of efficiencies but to little effect. All the unloading of containers is now done by robotic cranes.
With the faster increase in offloading comes more and more containers of which only around 10% can be screened. The container has made the smuggling, of goods, drugs and even people more likely.
The book is incredibly well researched and indeed well written. Its possibly a bit longer than one would want to spend reading about shipping containers but it has clearly been a really important development worthy of such a decent book.
Regardless, I wolfed this book down and it's fair to say I found it entertaining and informative in equal measure. Malcom McLean's invention of the container business is fascinating both from a human perspective (including the catastrophic repercussions this disruptive new technology had on entire communities of longshoremen it made redundant), but also as a history of the heavily regulated postwar economy. So the author takes you blow by blow through the hoops McLean, originally a trucker, had to jump through as he navigated the rules and regulations, the politics of unionised labor, the entrenched railroad and shipping-line monopolies as well as hostile harbors and the high seas. How he took advantage of government subsidies and handouts, how he leaned on his banker (Walter Wriston, no less), how he kept a keen eye on costs, and of course how he was not afraid to follow his gut instinct, twice over to triumph and eventually to ruin.
The bigger picture is discussed as well. The container is discussed in the context of globalization, just-in-time manufacturing and the redrawing of the map in terms of manufacturing, urbanisation and economic development in general.
It is the contention of the author, and I agree, that this is the single most important, none electronic, development of the 20th Century. It not only reduced the time that ships spent in port, it also moved the port from a coastal or river location to anywhere that containers can be stored and moved.
The impact of the container can be seen on every high street where imported goods are purchased. The influx of cheap imports of finished goods and raw materials has led the way to consumer goods at a cost that makes them everyday commodities instead of rare luxuries.
An excellent book. If I have one regret, it is far too expensive as an ebook. It's a pity the same economies of scale cannot be aimed at this.