Box Boats

Box Boats : How Container Ships Changed the World

By (author) Brian J. Cudahy


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Fifty years ago-on April 26, 1956-the freighter Ideal X steamed from Berth 26 in Port Newark, New Jersey. Flying the flag of the Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company, she set out for Houston with an unusual cargo: 58 trailer trucks lashed to her top deck.But they weren't trucks-they were steel containers removed from their running gear, waiting to be lifted onto empty truck beds when Ideal X reached Texas. She docked safely, and a revolution was launched-not only in shipping, but in the way the world trades. Today, the more than 200 million containers shipped every year are the lifeblood of the new global economy. They sit stacked on thousands of box boatsthat grow more massive every year. In this fascinating book, transportation expert Brian Cudahy provides a vivid, fast-paced account of the container-ship revolution-from the maiden voyage of the Ideal X to the entrepreneurial vision and technological breakthroughs that make it possible to ship more goods more cheaply than every before.Cudahy tells this complex story easily, starting with Malcom McLean, Pan-Atlantic's owner who first thought about loading his trucks on board. His line grew into the container giant Sea-Land Services, and Cudahy chartsits dramatic evolution into Maersk Sealand, the largest container line in the world. Along the way, he provides a concise, colorful history of world shipping-from freighter types to the fortunes of steamship lines-and explores the spectacular growth of global trade fueled by the mammoth ships and new seaborne lifelines connecting Asia, Europe, and the Americas.Masterful maritime history, Box Boats shows how fleets of these ungainly ships make the modern world possible-with both positive and negative effects. It's also a tale of an historic home port, New York, where old piers lie silent while 40-foot steel boxes of toys and televisions come ashore by the thousands, across the bay in New Jersey.

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  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 149.86 x 223.52 x 25.4mm | 544.31g
  • 01 Mar 2008
  • Fordham University Press
  • New York
  • English
  • 5 b&w illustrations
  • 0823225690
  • 9780823225699
  • 349,544

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Author Information

BRIAN J. CUDAHY's books include Around Manhattan Island: And Other Maritime Tales of New York and A Century of Subways: Celebrating 100 Years of New York's Underground Railways (both Fordham). He lives in Bluffton, SC.

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Review quote

"A concise history of world shipping - from freighter types to steamship lines - [that] explores the growth of global trade carried by box boats and ship lines connecting Asia, Europe, and the Americas." - TR News "Charts the growth of McLean's line into Sea-Land Service and its successors while also sketching the evolution of other major container lines... filled with details" - Science "[Cudahy] writes with... gusto, and humor." - Michael Sean Quinn, Journal of Maritime Law & Commerce "A book for ship spotters." - New York Review of Books "A well-written history of a development that changed the face of an entire industry." - Shipping Today & Yesterday "Thoroughly researched and beautifully written... presents fascinating stories on the development of container ships and the revolutionary changes they brought to world commerce." - Edwin Dunbaugh, Ph.D., author of The New England Steamship Company: Long Island Sound Night Boats in the Twentieth Century "Brian Cudahy is a masterly ship historian... an engaging and carefully researched book.... A great subject and a great read, Box Boats describes one of the transforming industrial revolutions of our age." - Arthur Donovan, Emeritus Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, coauthor of The Box That Changed the World "A thoroughly readable history, not only of that late, lamented pioneer, Sea-Land Service, Inc., and how it built its empire on its own... but also of the radical changes that have occurred in the ports and transportation." - William duBarry Thomas, Naval Architect and Maritime Historian"

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