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
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1. All ships, trains, trailers and cranes for freight are built to the exact same standards. On a ship the tolerance on the rails that lock the containers in place is 1/4". It doesn't matter if it is a refrigerated container, a double-doors one or any of the 16 types of container, all are built to the same external and weight bearing parameters. It doesn't matter if it is in Egypt, Sydney or Cape Town, all the p ...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
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
But all in all too dull and repetitive; tonnages, millions of dollars investment, acres; the numbers keep on coming. Also sorely lacks visuals, first graph is at page 223. Why not some drawings on how new boxes are designed, with applications for cranes (similar to the cover). Now it is hard with al ...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
90 percent of what we use, wear and eat is carried by ships. Anything you name can be found inside these boxes. It’s amazing to see how they make the world smaller but the world economy bigger.
3.6 stars. It’d be great to see photos included. For people who do not work in this industry, they would have a hard time to visualize.
This is a great book! I started reading this book because I realized how much shipping has changed the things that one has access to, it was also part of the book recommendations on one of the Ezra Klein Show podcast episodes. I don't remember who recommended this book anymore or in what context, though! I am glad I read it nonetheless.
First, a brief word about the good stuff. This is a comprehensive and very very detailed account of how containers started, who started using them, how they came...more
The box is the ubiquitous metal container that is seen at loading docks, on the back of semi-trucks, at harbors and wherever goods are transported. According to Levinson, the container changed the worlds economy.
Surprisingly this non-fiction book was more interesting than I expected. The introduction of shipping goods by containers revolutionized international shipping. It changed the geographic aspects of commerce due to the location of ports acceptable to container shi ...more
There was a painful lack of diagrams. Bizarrely ...more
2) Chapters about the shipping industry in 1950 weren't much different than books which describe what happened in Airbnb / Uber in 201X - our generation is not such unique, nor are companies where we work ...more
Fascinating story of the vision and perseverance of one entrepreneur revolutionizing a disorganized, incompatible shipping hodgepodge into global dominance. In the process, changing labor regulations, ship designs, relocating port destinations, and lowering product costs around the world.
Economic globalization of trade is founded on the marriage of computer tracking capabilities and the standardization of shipping containers and handling facilities from trucks to railroads t ...more
The subject was fascinating. How container shipping changed freight and helped create globalization. The problem was that the writing became too pedantic. He covered fifty years of labor unrest, the constant refitting of the different ports fighting for the new business, the refitting of the boats and the changing shipping centers. I just got bogged down. The discussions about the need to standardize the dimensions of the box were interesting.
Levinson really ...more
An absolute must read ...more