Baluch, founder of Dubai-based Swift Freight International, draws on decades of freight-forwarding experience in an ambitious work that emphasizes the importance of logistics in the movement of goods and people.
As the subtitle hints, Baluch combines three books in one. Part I summarizes historical logistical challenges, including the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza, Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, construction of the Panama Canal and the D-Day invasion. Balancing these marvels of logistics are accounts of failures, notably the German fiasco at the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II and the more recent burst of the dot-com bubble. The brevity of these well researched and documented descriptions will frustrate curious readers. The discussion of the Great Wall of China, which the author says is â€œunrivalled by any other structure in the world,” takes up fewer than five pages of text. Understandably, Baluch has more to say when he discusses the present state of trade-logistics systems. He spotlights the transport logistics climate in five developing countries: Egypt, China, India, South Africa and Dubai. He focuses on the transport infrastructures of each country while highlighting distinctive issues such as the high tolls for China’s truckers and the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Given the author’s origin, it’s not surprising that the portions of the text devoted to Dubai are the most thorough. Baluch’s predictions for the future include a familiar discussion of alternative energy sources and reasonable recommendations concerning the expansion of railways in the Middle East and Africa. He also predicts the expanded use of magnetic levitation (Maglev) for transportation, and the use of underground pipelines that move cargo with pneumatic pressure. He ominously forecasts a coming age of neurotechnology, â€œthe ultimate business weapon and competitive resource,” but quickly drops the subject in favor of more pressing needs, such as an increase in efficiency in container ships.
Well researched, authoritative and accessible, but a wide reach makes for some tantalizingly brief sketches.