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Refrigeration Nation

, 248 pages

12 b&w illus.

September 2013



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Usually ships 2-3 business days after receipt of order.

Refrigeration Nation

A History of Ice, Appliances, and Enterprise in America

Only when the power goes off and food spoils do we truly appreciate how much we rely on refrigerators and freezers. In Refrigeration Nation, Jonathan Rees explores the innovative methods and gadgets that Americans have invented to keep perishable food cold—from cutting river and lake ice and shipping it to consumers for use in their iceboxes to the development of electrically powered equipment that ushered in a new age of convenience and health.

As much a history of successful business practices as a history of technology, this book illustrates how refrigeration has changed the everyday lives of Americans and why it remains so important today. Beginning with the natural ice industry in 1806, Rees considers a variety of factors that drove the industry, including the point and product of consumption, issues of transportation, and technological advances. Rees also shows that how we obtain and preserve perishable food is related to our changing relationship with the natural world. He compares how people have used the "cold chain" in America to its use in other countries, offering insight into more than just what we eat. Refrigeration Nation helps explain one small part of who we are as a people.

Jonathan Rees is a professor of history at Colorado State University, Pueblo. He is author of Representation and Rebellion: The Rockefeller Plan at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, 1914–1942 and Managing the Mills: Labor Policy in the American Steel Industry during the Nonunion Era.

"A fascinating book."

"Rees has written a solid, comprehensive account of the technological creation of cold chains in the United States. I wish this book had been available for me to read when I was doing my own research."

" Refrigeration Nation is a valuable, well-researched study, but it also suggests the need for more work on a subject that at first seems mundane and taken for granted but, upon greater inspection, is really quite fascinating and compelling."

"Jonathan Rees provides us a good history of the ice industry, cold chains, cold storage, refrigerated transport, and mechanical refrigeration in this valuable book."

"On the whole, this is a smart and illuminating book that will be of great interest to anyone engaged with either the history of techonology of the history of food."

"Rees has written an entertaining, well-narrated, and well-researched book about building one root infrastructure of modern food systems. He brings this infrastructure to the foreground of U.S. history, and hopefully the book will reach a broad readership, both within history departments and a public with an interest in the intersections of the histories of food, business, and technology."

"[Rees] delves into the very infrastructure of ice-making, chronicling the engineering feats, describing the machinery of temperature control, and a particularly appealing exploration of human ingenuity that has made refrigerated food the norm in American homes."

" Refrigeration Nation is a well-written and useful book for both scholars and students... Rees presents a well-developed account of the importance of American enterprise and innovation in the national and global marketplace."

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