The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger
In April 1956, a refitted oil tanker carried fifty-eight shipping containers from Newark to Houston. From that modest beginning, container shipping developed into a huge industry that made the boom in global trade possible. The Box tells the dramatic story of the container's creation, the decade of struggle before it was widely adopted, and the sweeping economic consequenc...more
You might struggle to believe that interest could be sustained on the topic at article length much less for an entire book – and you’d be dead wrong.
The hum-drum box unleashed a wave of disruption that smashed union power, consigned thousands of workers to the scrapheap, devastated established city ports, uplifted backwater areas and, as an unforeseen consequence, ul ...more
At times a little clunky and drowsiness-inducing (especially when there are pages and pages of number and data, which made me feel confident in the author's knowledge, but which I could have easily check ...more
One of the oldest, largest, and most important parts of the global economy, the shipment of goods, transformed completely in only a couple of decades. Huge ports like New York collapsed suddenly, losing tens of thousands of jobs, as all shipping moved across the river to the drained swamp of Elizabeth, NJ. Economies transformed, as moving goods went from one of the largest costs to nearly free, enabling huge supply chains and the ...more
Here is what I didn't like: Long swaths of the book dive deep into minu ...more
There's no doubt that containerization changed where factories needed to be located and how global business is a ...more
Its adoption, form, technology and methods haven't changed much since the 80s. All these attributes combine to make the shipping container a perfect study case for understanding how things go from idea to mass adoption. This inspired more th ...more
The interconnected economy of the modern world is founded on the ubiquitous shipping container. This book tells the fascinating story of just how many times this method of moving cargo h ...more
In the spirit of books like 'Cod', or 'Salt' or 'Longitude' Marc Levinson explains a good part of why we live in the world we currently do. If the ...more
That said, I do ha ...more
I recently narrated and produced this intriguing and enlightening title about a seemingly pedestrian topic- the history of the shipping container.
Former Economist Magazine editor, Marc Levinson has traced the development of container shipping from its inception in the 1950's to the highly-developed, global backbone of trade that it is today in his book, The BOX. Not unlike Jared Diamond's, Germs Guns and Steel, Levinson tells the story of globalism's em ...more
The second fact is how destructive unions were for progress. Containers had a huge positive effect in humanity but for some time, it looked like unions were to stop it. Obviously containers requi ...more
More seriously, this is a well-written and well-researched book about one of the major economic forces of the 20th century: container shipping.
In "breakbulk" shipping, longshoremen manually haul around bags of coffee beans and barrels of salted fish. In containerized shippin ...more
- Take a well-covered topic and come up with a compelling new narrative or explanation.
- Delve deeply into an area that has been neglected.
This is clearly in the mold of the latter, which is perhaps less exciting on the surface. But Levinson is highly, highly convincing about the significance of the container in modern history. This is a highly readable, well-argued narrative that blends economic insights and historical research. It is amon ...more
Although at times confusing (so many people involved who shared the same name) and at times tedious (particularly the chapter on the development of the international standard), Marc tells the story very well. He highlights the li ...more
In the mid-1950's, the shipping container was introduced. As Levinson adroitly argues, the economic geography of the world was dramatically changed. Principally, the economic benefit of "containerization" shifted the global economic pole slowly, but confidently, away from the American-European nexus and toward the Asia-Pacific. Simply put, the rise ...more