The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Marc Levinson

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The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger By Marc Levinson The Box How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger In April 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

  • Title: The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger
  • Author: Marc Levinson
  • ISBN: 9780691123240
  • Page: 431
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger By Marc Levinson 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 consequeIn 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 consequences of the sharp fall in transportation costs that containerization brought about.Published on the fiftieth anniversary of the first container voyage, this is the first comprehensive history of the shipping container It recounts how the drive and imagination of an iconoclastic entrepreneur, Malcom McLean, turned containerization from an impractical idea into a massive industry that slashed the cost of transporting goods around the world and made the boom in global trade possible.But the container didn t just happen Its adoption required huge sums of money, both from private investors and from ports that aspired to be on the leading edge of a new technology It required years of high stakes bargaining with two of the titans of organized labor, Harry Bridges and Teddy Gleason, as well as delicate negotiations on standards that made it possible for almost any container to travel on any truck or train or ship Ultimately, it took McLean s success in supplying U.S forces in Vietnam to persuade the world of the container s potential.Drawing on previously neglected sources, economist Marc Levinson shows how the container transformed economic geography, devastating traditional ports such as New York and London and fueling the growth of previously obscure ones, such as Oakland By making shipping so cheap that industry could locate factories far from its customers, the container paved the way for Asia to become the world s workshop and brought consumers a previously unimaginable variety of low cost products from around the globe.
    The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger By Marc Levinson

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    One thought on “The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

    1. Petra X on said:

      Containerisation is globalisation Nine ways in which shipping has changed the world.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 ports a [...]

    2. Nick Black on said:

      lots of fun Malacca Max will likely be my favorite new word for a few weeks my big question after reading this what s keeping someone, say me, from building nuclear powered megabulk carriers of truly tremendous draft, using them as motherships, driving them outside of economic exclusion zones to avoid all the hogwash nonsense nuclear regulation, and linking up with fast oil burners for final portside delivery you don t want cranes on your oilburners due to weight imbalance problems, but you re n [...]

    3. Osamah on said:

      We all take shipping containers for granted We all know what they are and what purpose they serve, but did you ever stop to ponder the role they play in international commerce or how they came about to be the standard method of shipping in the world My family has been in the shipping business since 1890 and the shipping container is something I constantly heard my father talk about since my earliest childhood cost per container , offloading containers , trucks and trailers , and so forth And yet [...]

    4. Paul Brannan on said:

      Let s be honest, the evolution of shipping containers isn t the first thing that springs to mind for a reading list recommendation.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, ulti [...]

    5. Jill on said:

      The Box tries to do many things at once describing how the advent of the shipping container changed trade flows, transformed cities from New York City to Felixstowe to Long Beach and Oakland, and changed the nature of the livelihood of dockworkers The Box probably fares best on the latter two fronts Its account of the decline of NY s ports as the Port Authority of NY shifted its operations towards Elizabeth and Newark, how it led to a hollowing out of manufacturing operations and the subsequent [...]

    6. Mick on said:

      The history of the humble shipping container may at first seem an odd subject for an entire book, until you consider its ubiquity and importance to the global economy The triumph of containerization has truly changed the world, creating winners and losers Marc Levinson s The Box How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger charts the long, stilted development of an international standard for shipping containers and the effects this has had on economies, societie [...]

    7. Phil Gross on said:

      A little dry in parts, but the basic subject matter is fascinating.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 r [...]

    8. Michael on said:

      A seriously boring book with subject matter that would be fascinating as a long form blog article Instead this book reads like a dull academic treatment.

    9. Ethan on said:

      You might think that the Cliffs Notes summary of The Box would be enough Yes, the shipping container revolutionized the global economy by almost eliminating considerations of shipping cost and geographic proximity in the manufacturing supply chain This development allowed factories to locate essentially anywhere not just near transportation hubs and so radically reshaped longstanding trade patterns and practices It s not too extreme to say that the shipping container played an oversized role in [...]

    10. Andy on said:

      Fantastic history of something you wouldn t realize deserves a history Traces the introduction of standardized containers into the modern shipping industry and examines its impact on the shipping industry itself obviously , other transportation industries, manufacturing, labor unions, and social dynamics of waterfront cities Enthusiastic without being too preachy, very insightful and thought provoking, and the one accusation that could be leveled is that occasionally just occasionally it is a li [...]

    11. Chris on said:

      Forget about the internet, the container is what has made us a global village At times fascinating and other times dryer than the hills of California this book looks at transportation evenly and thoroughly My biggest complaint about this book is its total lack of diagrams, photos, maps, etc There are a few tables of data and that s it Not even a picture of Malcom McLean, the guy who made the container a reality The interesting thing about this subject is that no one could accurately predict what [...]

    12. Miguel Eduardo on said:

      Topic is really interesting He could have told the story in half the pages though Lots of repetition

    13. Kuldeep Dhankar on said:

      The modern world is a fantastically complex system So many levers are involved in shifting the world that it is impossible to make sense of how the modern world came into being This book is the history on one such lever this shipping container It chronically in excellent prose the human cost and the shifting stances of business state No one really knew how to deal with the container and it changed the world at very profound levels An absolute must read

    14. Adriaan Jansen on said:

      A surprisingly diverse book about the history of the container Marc Levinson points out that diversity in the first chapter when he states that this book stands at the crossroads of 3 areas of research The impact of changes in transportation technology The importance of innovation The connection between transportation costs and economic geography The question of who makes what where.It turns out that the diversity that this book offers goes beyond these 3 areas There are many other dimensions to [...]

    15. Fred Forbes on said:

      You probably never thought much about it, I would bet Me neither You know, those big, ugly metal boxes take them off the ship with specialized cranes, bolt them to a truck or stack them two high on a flat bed train car and get them where they are going And vice versa What could be obvious that needing a standard to build to so all the moving and structural parts function together Well, it may be common sense in hindsight but to the longshoremen on the piers of New York who used to load and unlo [...]

    16. DoctorM on said:

      Marc Levinson s The Box is a fine introduction to the coming of containerization a basic enough development a metal box, something with no moving parts and no new technology that up ended the maritime industry and whose introduction shifted global trade flows, made and broke port towns, and changed the way the global economy viewed ocean transport Levinson explores the way the standardized shipping container came to dominate ocean transport and gives the reader whose memories of Econ 101 are fad [...]

    17. Wilte on said:

      Innovation with much far reaching implications than you might think at first the shipping container Perhaps even than on the box itself, this is a book about ports adapting and new ships.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 the technical ter [...]

    18. Colin Wright on said:

      This book, for me, had the same impact as taking art history classes in school That is to say the information alone was fascinating and worthy of attention, but the overarching storyline also helped tie together disparate pieces of history to form a cohesive whole I love when that happens.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 checked in t [...]

    19. Michael Cestas on said:

      I think I began reading this after hearing that Bill Gates recommended it I liked the idea of learning about the development and growth of an industry that has become a critical component of international trade, while also remaining largely unknown to the broader public Bill also called it fascinating , so I figured I d enjoy it Well, in the end, I did enjoy it however, I didn t find the entire ride to be fascinating Here is what I didn t like Long swaths of the book dive deep into minutiae abou [...]

    20. Trena on said:

      This book traces various aspects of the development of the shipping container and explains how it revolutionized the costs of shipping and facilitated the global economy It is full of interesting characters and interesting information, from Malcom McLean, who built up a trucking empire and traded it all in for a gamble on container shipping to details about the unbelievably inefficient way in which ships were loaded and unloaded before the advent of the container The book covers the business, te [...]

    21. Ray on said:

      Interesting focus on an underappreciated but interesting subject Stylistically, some of the language is a bit clunky at times of an occasional impression I had versus an overriding flaw I would say that a reader has to have a fairly high level of interest in this topic in order to read it even though its a short book because the 30 second summary is probably sufficient for most everyone else Given Levinson s decision to organize the chapters by a certain aspect of containerization s rise, the t [...]

    22. Vivian on said:

      The Box gives the behind the scenes story of the shipping container, and how it become the catalyst for a complete overhaul of the global transportation industry, affecting railroads, ports, trucks and dockyard workers as well as manufacturing companies, and the cities that hosted all of them I thought it was appropriate to understand the container history, given that all my household belongings are currently packed in a container, loaded on a transatlantic ship, and racing to the U.S from Europ [...]

    23. Greg Hendrickson on said:

      I was given this book as a gift, because I worked 25 years in the containerized shipping business It is written like an economist would write There are many numbers and facts and figures While I was intrigued at how events decided what size boxes would be used and how to standardize the worldd change it indelibly, I don t know how good of a read it will be to the casual person.There s no doubt that containerization changed where factories needed to be located and how global business is accomplis [...]

    24. Valerie on said:

      I read this on the plane yesterday Of particular interest were some of the details about container shipping and building ports in Vietnam and how Oakland, Long Beach, and New Jersey won the business away from their larger counterpart cities I was also fascinated by some of the interplay between union and innovation Without the ability to see what could happen in the long term with globalization, unions made some poor choices I would have liked about the mathematically analysis of best utilizati [...]

    25. Malek Dabbous on said:

      Recommended by Bill Gates I m glad I read it but I knew what I was getting myself into so I m glad I read it not for everyone A very detailed book about the shipping industry and how it was revolutionized by the colorful Containers You come out of this book feeling you have been immersed in a case study and that u know everything about the industry.2 chapters were very detailed and dull to read, the chapter about the Union and otherwise a good read and good bus learning points The book was missi [...]

    26. Tony Noland on said:

      What used to take a hundred men six days can now be done by five men in ten hours What used to cost so much that it would make or break an enterprise is now so cheap that it barely registers Singapore and Sydney used to be a long way from New York or Newcastle, but now they re all right next door to each other.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 had [...]

    27. Amy on said:

      Great book on how a seemingly small innovation had a massive ripple effect on global trade and geopolitics Well written with the right balance between detail and an overarching narrative It s fascinating to see how devastatingly fast containerization s effects could be felt, destroying traditional ports like Liverpool and San Francisco while simultaneously nurturing new economies from Busan to Dubai Is it a bit long Yes, but it s readable and you can skim bits you re not interested in Highly rec [...]

    28. Vivek on said:

      Interesting read on how The Container changed the economy of the world through transformation of freight shipping The author almost makes it a story of Darwinian evolution The book does drag at certain parts and while the volume of research done may interest a student doing a thesis it wears down a normal reader which is why I would give it 2.5 stars.

    29. Charles E. on said:

      Really good take on the development of the shipping container and its impact on global supply chains While the writing style is a bit dry, the book really highlights how poorly understood containerization was and the profound impact it had on labor unions, shipping cartels, and global manufacturing.

    30. Vincent Tan on said:

      It s no exaggeration too call the shipping container one of the most profound developments of the second half of the 20th century Without this metal box, the explosion of global trade would not have been possible and the rapid growth seen in so much of the developing world would simply not have happened This is the fascinating story of how your clothes and cars reach you.

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