Book review. Fifty things that made the modern economy.
I like this book. It’s one of those, you can sit and read it cover to cover, or more likely, dip in and out. Each chapter is a ‘thing’. Not necessarily a physical thing, some of them are concepts, like 49, Insurance, or number 4, Seller Feedback, or 8, The Welfare State.
For each of the 50 things, a chapter of between 3 and 7 pages. Typically detailing the context and history of the thing, its evolution, and the impact it’s had on the World and therefor the economy. All the inclusions are World changers. Be it The Shipping Container, without which global trade would not function at the scale it does… an interesting one is the shipping container, the object itself is simple and obvious, the challenge was bringing an entire series of industries into synchronised acceptance of it. Trucking, Port authorities, Shipping, an entire supply line. The chapters on inventing new systems also include the dynamo, the barcode, the cold chain, (the global refrigerated supply line) and traceable debt.
It’s one of those books that teaches you new things on every page. Not deep domain knowledge that feels heavy and narrow, but clear understanding of the actual world we live in. Take elevators, infact, the elevator brake. Without which, no skyscrapers. Take air conditioning. Again, no skyscrapers or glass fronted buildings. How about clocks? Paper?
This book continuously surprises and sheds light on how we got to where we are. Speaking of light, the price of man made illumination has fallen by a factor of 500,000 in the last couple of centuries.
I’ve nearly read all the chapters, but I know there’s a few nuggets hidden still. Limited liability companies is next.
Buy it on Amazon if you like, or post a comment and I’ll swop you for one of your own books. Just for fun.