Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes On Your Back, Gas In Your Car, and Food On Your Plate

Rose George. Metropolitan, $26 (304p) ISBN 9780805092639
Though the romance is gone from seafaring life, journalist George's (The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters) multifaceted exploration of the global shipping industry gamely reintroduces an element of wonder. Nearly all goods sold worldwide are transported by container ship, which make workaday passage through the Straits of Malacca, the Suez Canal, and other channels kept in constant motion by an expanding global economy. One of George's main points is that freight shipping remains largely behind the scenes, leading to a byzantine system of concealed ownership structures, convoluted regulations, a labor force largely drawn from developing nations, and inhumane working conditions. In a lengthy, thoughtful section, George takes to sea on the Kendal, a container ship of the Maersk shipping line, and explores these issues, and the very real threat of piracy along the Somali coast. George's work unfortunately suffers from a civilian's perspective on a closed professional fraternity. She searches for the poetry and elevated thought that informs literary accounts of a life at sea, but as one of the pragmatic crewmen notes: "For us, it is just work." 10 b&w illus. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/2013
Release date: 08/13/2013
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-250-05829-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-8050-9604-0
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