Of Ice and Men: How We’ve Used Cold To Transform Humanity

Pegasus. Dec. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781639361830. $27.95. SCI
Hogge, a British historian and filmmaker, contends that the use of cool air has been essential for humans to populate the whole planet and develop technological civilization. He traces chilling technology back to the ancient Sumerians, who pioneered insulated icehouses, followed by other peoples who stored snow and ice. The author also includes other facts and points. For example, medical use began in medieval times. The Washington and Jefferson estates boasted icehouses. Ice cut from streams and ponds was used to keep fish fresh and to make ice cream. Industrial ice-making to preserve meat and produce became common by the late 19th century. Freight trains included insulated cars cooled with ice blocks, as links in early “cold chain” logistics systems. U.S. households got iceboxes, and eventually refrigerators. Flash freezing and truck refrigeration brought increased variety to food markets. Large-scale tourism and migration to desert or tropical regions became feasible with air conditioning. The final chapter is a farewell to pack ice, glaciers and ice sheets, now melting as the climate warms.
VERDICT Hogge makes many fascinating points and digressions in this casual history about applications of cold.
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