- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 2 edition (15 April 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691170819
- ISBN-13: 978-0691170817
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.8 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 499 g
- Customer Reviews: 97 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger 2ed Paperback – 15 April 2016
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From the Back Cover
"The continuous decline of ocean shipping costs in the last 40 years is rarely credited for the growth of global trade in contemporary literature. Don't miss this amazing history."--George Stalk, Boston Consulting Group and author of Surviving the China Riptide
"An excellent piece of work."--Bruce Nelson, Dartmouth College
"This book is dynamite. The experts who tell you the transistor and microchips changed the world are off base. The ugly, unglamorous, little-noticed shipping container has changed the world. Without it, there would be no globalization, no Wal-Mart, maybe even no high-tech. And what looks like low-tech is in fact a breathtaking technological innovation. Marc Levinson's sparkling and authoritative story is great fun to read, but it is spectacular economic history as well."--Peter L. Bernstein, author of Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk
"Fascinating, informative, wonderfully historicized. This is a terrific untold story."--Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California, Santa Barbara, and editor of Wal-Mart: the Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism
"The adoption of the modern shipping container may be a close second to the Internet in the way it has changed our lives. It has made products from every corner of the world commonplace and accessible everywhere. It has dramatically cut the cost of transportation and thereby made outsourcing a significant issue. It has transformed the world's port cities, and more. This book, very nicely written, makes a fascinating set of true stories of an apparently mundane subject, and dramatically illustrates how simple innovations can transform our lives."--William Baumol, Director, Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, author of The Free-Market Innovation Machine
"In the second half of the twentieth century, an innovation came along that would transform the way the world did business. . . . I'm not talking about software. I'm talking about the shipping industry, and in particular an innovation you might not have thought much about: the shipping container. It is the subject of an excellent book I read this summer called The Box. . . . The story of this transition is fascinating and reason enough to read the book. But in subtle ways The Box also challenges commonly held views about business and the role of innovation."--Bill Gates, Gatesnotes
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But the story telling part of the book is sorely lacking. The writing is insipid. There's often too much detail. Each chapter feels like a doctoral dissertation. Only if the book was more engaging.
I suspect people wanting to go into the history in detail will find the work valuable. But for most readers who want an overview told in an engaging manner -- something with clear takeaways, something that will stay after you put down the book -- this book will be a humongous disappointment.
Top international reviews
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.
It puts container business in the wide context of product development, international trade, financing, politics and changing worklife.
At times we can only approach things, if somebody tells us a captivating story about them: Marc Livingstone does it with great attention to detail and an easy to read style.