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

Marc Levinson.
Publisher Princeton  
Format paperback
ISBN 9780691136400
Pages/Publication Date 376/2008
Daedalus Item Code 49255
This item is not available.
(Winner of the 2007 Anderson Medal (Society for Nautical Research) and the 2007 Bronze Medal in Finance/Investment/Economics (Independent Publisher Book Awards); Shortlisted for the 2006 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year) In April 1956, a refitted oil tanker carried 58 shipping containers from Newark to waiting trucks in Houston. From that modest beginning, containerized freight developed into a worldwide industry that devastated waterfront communities, reshaped manufacturing, ruined centuries-old ports and shippers, revitalized third-world economies, and created massive shipping centers where none had existed before. In his surprisingly dramatic account economist Marc Levinson argues that it was the drive and imagination of entrepreneur Malcom McLean that turned containerization from an unworkable idea into the economic revolution that made the boom in global trade possible.

"[In this] smart, engaging book ... Mr. Levinson makes a persuasive case that the container has been woefully underappreciated.... The story he tells is that of a classic disruptive technology: the world worked in one fashion before the container came onto the scene, and in a completely different fashion after it took hold."—NYTimes

"This book ... is about the economic ramifications of the shipping container-from the closing of traditional (and antiquated) ports to the rise of Asia as the world's preeminent provider of inexpensive consumer goods (distributed, naturally, using mammoth shipping containers). Levinson maintains his focus on the economics of shipping vast quantities of merchandise, organizing the book into snappy, thematic chapters on different facets of shipping ('The Trucker,' and 'Union Disunion,' for instance), an approach that lends itself well to spot-reading. Throughout, the writing is clean—more informal than rigidly academic (union boss Teddy Gleason is 'a voluble Irishman born hard by the New York docks')—making the book suitable for casual readers as well as students looking for a different take on the evolution of 20th-century world economics."—Publishers Weekly

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