This review was first published by Booklist on May 1, 2023.
Ice is everywhere. We put it in our drinks, use it to numb pain and injuries, and have machines in our kitchen that make it on demand. Given its ubiquity, it’s remarkable how little attention we’ve paid to its history. Environmental historian Brady is on a mission to fill this gap. Ice has played a central role in the evolution of culture, economics, and technology from the sixteenth century on. It revolutionized how we live: what we eat and drink, the sports we play, and how we treat illness. Ice, along with the rise of car culture, led to the invention of convenience stores. Ice even helped elect one the United States’ most popular presidents. But our obsessive pursuit of cold via refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and a driver of global warming. Ironically, the growing role of human-made ice in our lives has caused the crucial loss of ice on earth. Brady’s history of ice focuses a fascinating lens on how our modern world came to be.