Here’s my short review of “The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger”, authored by Marc Levinson.

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

In this book, Marc Levinson shows how, in about 50 years, containers revolutionized the way we ship goods across the world. Most of it is centered about ships transporting containers by sea, but it also explains how those are linked to trucks on the roads and trains on the rails.

I read about how break bulk cargo was unloaded, by many workers, around 1950 and how things evolved through the following decades, including the impact of containers for shipping during the Vietnam war, or how fast but fuel-hungry ships appeared right at the wrong time, before the petrol crisis of 1973-74. I also read about how the changes brought by containerization of goods impacted ports and cities and unionized workers. And how costs fell down in 50 years, allowing consumers to get, in something like a month, products made the other side of the world – without shipping having a huge impact on cost, compared to the costs of manufacturing at least.

45 To my surprise, it took me less than two days to read the ~400 pages of this book. The matters of “The Box” – history and trade and economy – are quite far from what I usually read about, but I enjoyed reading this book and learnt about a subject I knew nothing about.

By the way, don’t be mistaken: this book is indeed about “containers”, but it is about shipping containers. And it definitely does not revolve around the kind of containers I usually read and talk about – like Docker “Light VM” containers used to containerize applications ;-)

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