- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1 edition (August 13, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805092633
- ISBN-13: 978-0805092639
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 199 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Though the romance is gone from seafaring life, journalist George's (The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters) multifaceted exploration of the global shipping industry gamely reintroduces an element of wonder. Nearly all goods sold worldwide are transported by container ship, which make workaday passage through the Straits of Malacca, the Suez Canal, and other channels kept in constant motion by an expanding global economy. One of George's main points is that freight shipping remains largely behind the scenes, leading to a byzantine system of concealed ownership structures, convoluted regulations, a labor force largely drawn from developing nations, and inhumane working conditions. In a lengthy, thoughtful section, George takes to sea on the Kendal, a container ship of the Maersk shipping line, and explores these issues, and the very real threat of piracy along the Somali coast. George's work unfortunately suffers from a civilian's perspective on a closed professional fraternity. She searches for the poetry and elevated thought that informs literary accounts of a life at sea, but as one of the pragmatic crewmen notes: "For us, it is just work." 10 b&w illus. (Aug.)
In her debut work of nonfiction, The Big Necessity (2008), George profiled the generally unmentionable topic of human waste. In a similar vein, her latest work plumbs the ins and outs of the shipping industry, a subject that can more easily be discussed in polite company but somehow rarely is. It turns out shipping’s virtual invisibility has as much to do with deliberate attempts by industry magnates to deflect scrutiny of unsafe working conditions and shady business dealings as it does with public indifference. In between chapters describing the voyage she took on the massive, 20-story freighter Maersk Kendal to research her book, George provides a wealth of detail about shipping’s inner workings, from statistics on the amount and types of ships crossing our oceans to snapshots of the unheralded crew members who keep them running. She is also unsparing in exposing the hazards of contemporary seafaring life, including often unreported but rampant acts of piracy. George provides an engaging, much-needed, and in-depth tribute to shipping’s essential role in providing worldwide goods and services. --Carl Hays
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You will be outraged at some unscrupulous ship owners who are protected behind layers upon layers of secrecy when they fail to ensure the most basic human rights and for the safety of the crews that man their ships.
I was dumbfounded to learn that there are currently over 500 hostages in the hands of Somali pirates. These poor souls have been abandoned by the ship owners and their home nations as expendable because they are so easily replaced.
In the event of an environmental disaster resulting from a ship wreck it is sometimes impossible to bring negligent ship owners to justice due to "flags of convenience" and the aforementioned layers of secrecy. This leaves the captains and crew out in the open to take the full force of the legal system and and outrage of public opinion, when very often they are least responsible for the catastrophe.
The only reason that I became aware of "90%...." is through the recommendation of a CBC radio news anchor and I'm very glad that I followed up and purchased the book. Buy it; You won;t regret the purchase!
Sadly a huge portion of it was devoted to piracy and recounting specific piracy events in great detail. It seemed somewhat out of proportion to the rest of the book.
Instead, I would have liked to learn more about port operations. What is it like to operate the cranes that load and unload all of those containers? How are they transferred to rail and road?
At times it seems that the author did one trip on a container ship and turned her trip into an entire book. Then when it wasn't long enough she did a research report on piracy to throw in there.
There also appears to be an undercurrent in the book as a whole, portraying the non-white non-European people and lands as backward and corrupt, or only functioning when led by strong leadership (i.e. white leaders and non-white laborers).
Overall this book was interesting but a disappointment from what it was touted to be.
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