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Readers may be interested in two new books, published to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Containerisation.

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger tells the story of the creation of the container, the decade of struggle before it was widely adopted and the sweeping economic consequences of the sharp fall in transportation costs that the container brought about.

The book’s early chapters review the “pre-container” era, the early developments of unitised and intermodal transport, and the initiatives undertaken by Malcom McLean to establish container shipping operations. There is considerable information about the development of container standards, the impact on port labour and on the role of containers in the Vietnam war, while later chapters cover the development of international services – from the USA to Europe and elsewhere. Much of the focus is on the years up to the mid-70s, with some good discussion on the “boom and bust” cycle of the container business and the growth of the power of the shipper. 

It is written by Marc Levinson, 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.

For more details on the book, visit: http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/8131.ht

To read Chapter 1 of the book, click on: http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/s8131.pdf

To view a video interview of Marc Levinson, discussing the issues covered in the book, click on: http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/video/levinson/leventlan.wmv

Click here to read a review that appeared in The Sunday Times

COA members wishing to purchase a copy of the book can benefit from a special price of £10.95 (plus packing and postage). To order the book, please phone the UK distributors, John Wiley, on +44 (0)1243 843291, quoting “COA” as a reference. The book’s ISBN reference is 0691123241.

“The Box That Changed The World” is a new illustrated history book, telling the story of containerisation, beginning in the 1950’s and how this simple commercial innovation has completely transformed world trade.

The book will be released on April 26, 2006, exactly 50 years to the day the first container-carrying vessel, the IDEAL X, sailed from Newark, NJ, for Houston, Texas. Developed by the Containerization & Intermodal Institute (CII), the book records the development of the container industry in pictures, stories, interviews and observations – the people, places, companies, dreams, triumphs, disappointments, unexpected twists and how the container eventually changed the world.

Arthur Donovan, retired U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Professor and historian, along with Joseph Bonney, Journal of Commerce Editor and business journalist, co-authored the book. It has more than 170 historic photos – many not seen before and not easily obtained, as many important shipping industry archives were lost in the World Trade Center in September 2001. 

The Journal of Commerce is publishing “The Box That Changed The World.” Proceeds will benefit CII’s mission of educational outreach to the public. A book signing with the authors is planned at the 50th Anniversary of Containerization Gala Celebration on April 27, 2006, at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the History of Containerization Foundation, Inc.

The book is available for order at www.containerization.org