The unexpected and unexplored ways that ice has transformed a nation—from the foods Americans eat, to the sports they play, to the way they live today—and what its future might look like on a swiftly warming planet.
Ice is everywhere: in gas stations, in restaurants, in hospitals, in our homes. Americans think nothing of dropping a few ice cubes into tall glasses of tea to ward off the heat of a hot summer day. Most refrigerators owned by Americans feature automatic ice machines. Ice on-demand has so revolutionized modern life that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always this way—and to overlook what aspects of society might just melt away as the planet warms.
In Ice, journalist and historian Amy Brady shares the strange and storied two-hundred-year-old history of ice in America: from the introduction of mixed drinks “on the rocks,” to the nation’s first-ever indoor ice rink, to how delicacies like ice creams and iced tea revolutionized our palates, to the ubiquitous ice machine in every motel across the US. But Ice doesn’t end in the past. Brady also explores the surprising present-day uses of ice in sports, medicine, and sustainable energy—including cutting-edge cryotherapy breast-cancer treatments and new refrigerator technologies that may prove to be more energy efficient—underscoring how precious this commodity is, especially in an age of climate change.
“You can’t possibly imagine what’s inside this cover! Fidel Castro is there, eating 18 scoops at a sitting and negotiating with Canada so US sanctions won’t cut off access to his beloved HoJo’s. People are skating on summertime rinks of hog fat. Ice men are stealing housewives' hearts and bars are hiring teams of "shaker boys” to keep up with America's sudden passion for iced cocktails. Machine-made ice goes from blasphemy to medical miracle to environmental disaster. In Amy Brady’s expert hands, ice is sexy, mysterious, funny, and endlessly fascinating.” —Mary Roach, author of Fuzz and Stiff
"Amy Brady has written a sweeping historical narrative on a uniquely cool topic in a style that is both thoroughly informative and buoyantly engaging." —Timothy Winegard, author of The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator
“[A] lively history of ice in America…Bursting at the seams with icy facts and trivia.” —Kirkus Reviews
Amy Brady is the executive director of Orion magazine and coeditor of The World as We Knew It: Dispatches from a Changing Climate. Brady has published widely on how the climate crisis continues to influence art and culture and has made appearances on the BBC, NPR, and PBS. She holds a PhD in literature and American studies and has won writing and research awards from the National Science Foundation, the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, and the Library of Congress.
Tana Wojczuk (prounounced “Woah-chuck) writes criticism and essays about the arts, ecology, and health for publications such as The New Yorker, New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, VQR and Orion. Her first book Lady Romeo, a biography of the queer, 19th century American actress and celebrity Charlotte Cushman, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, Marfield Prize, and Golden Triangle Award. Originally from Boulder, CO. Tana lives in Brooklyn where she is an editor-at-large for Guernica and teaches writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.
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