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

by

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

ISBN13: 9780691136400
ISBN10: 0691136408
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:


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 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 cheapthat 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.

Review:

"An excellent piece of work." Bruce Nelson, Dartmouth College

Review:

"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

Synopsis:

Awards


  • Short-listed for the 2006 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2007 Bronze Independent Publisher Book Award, Finance/Investment/Economics category
  • Honorable Mention, 2006 John Lyman Book Award, Science and Technology category, North American Society for Ocean History
  • Winner of the 2007 Anderson Medal, Society for Nautical Research

Synopsis:

"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

Synopsis:

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 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.

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About the Author

Marc Levinson is an economist in New York and author of three previous books. He was formerly finance and economics editor of the "Economist", a writer at "Newsweek", and editorial director of the "Journal of Commerce".

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix

Acknowledgments xv

Chapter 1: The World the Box Made 1

Chapter 2: Gridlock on the Docks 16

Chapter 3: The Trucker 36

Chapter 4: The System 54

Chapter 5: The Battle for New York's Port 76

Chapter 6: Union Disunion 101

Chapter 7: Setting the Standard 127

Chapter 8: Takeoff 150

Chapter 9: Vietnam 171

Chapter 10: Ports in a Storm 189

Chapter 11: Boom and Bust 212

Chapter 12: The Bigness Complex 231

Chapter 13: The Shippers' Revenge 245

Chapter 14: Just in Time 264

Abbreviations 279

Notes 281

Bibliography 343

Index 365

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Marie Angell, February 6, 2008 (view all comments by Marie Angell)
The Box explores how a man with vision took the lowly shipping container and made life better for everyone.

While this is a great book for engineering types who love to see how a good process comes together, it is also an excellent lesson in economics as well as a nice window into the history of the time. On top of all that, it's well-written, with a nice pace to it, and isn't the dismal tome those who think they have no interest in engineering, history and/or economics would presume it is. (And if you don't have any interest in engineering, history and/or economics, it's a good way to dip your toe in those waters.)

Highly recommended for all.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(9 of 14 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691136400
Author:
Levinson, Marc
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Economic History
Subject:
History
Subject:
Industrial Design - Packaging
Subject:
American history
Subject:
Economics
Subject:
Business-History and Biography
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
April 2008
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 halftone. 1 line illus. 6 tables.
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 20 oz

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Related Subjects

Business » History and Biographies
Engineering » Engineering » History
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Economics » Global Economics
Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Transportation » General
Transportation » Nautical » Shipping

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691136400 Reviews:
"Review" by , "An excellent piece of work."
"Review" by , "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
"Synopsis" by ,

Awards


  • Short-listed for the 2006 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2007 Bronze Independent Publisher Book Award, Finance/Investment/Economics category
  • Honorable Mention, 2006 John Lyman Book Award, Science and Technology category, North American Society for Ocean History
  • Winner of the 2007 Anderson Medal, Society for Nautical Research
"Synopsis" by ,

"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

"Synopsis" by ,

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 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.

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