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Reviews

"Before the Refrigerator is accessible, offers a unique insight that sheds light on a simple—at least at first glance—historical question, and includes multiple stories that will draw students into the subject. Well-written and backed up by ample evidence, the book is a welcome addition to the How Things Worked series."

"This fact-filled book explains how ice became an American necessity by the early twentieth century. Students in business history and history of technology courses will be fascinated to learn how macrobreweries made lager into America's favorite beer, how cocktails became commonplace, and how burly men used to lug giant blocks of ice into American kitchens."

"Americans consider their refrigerators and freezers ordinary features of life. It wasn't always so, or so easy: before the fridge came the icebox, along with a whole industrial infrastructure that made ice widely available and paved the way for electrical cooling. In this fascinating and well-written book by America's leading authority on the subject, readers learn just what it means to have their frozen dinners and drinks 'on the rocks.'"

"Decades before refrigerators became kitchen standards, ice was being cut from ponds in the northern United States and shipped by sea, rail, and oxcart to places as distant as Hawaii and Texas. Jonathan Rees has written an eye-opening account of what was involved in this transformation of the American diet."

"Jonathan Rees digs into a topic that is crucial for anyone interested in the history of technology and food: the American ice industry. With clarity and concision, Rees explores the economic, cultural, and culinary changes wrought by the industry and demonstrates how it profoundly shaped American tastes themselves."

"In Before the Refrigerator: How We Used to Get Ice, Jonathan Rees provides a rich and detailed history of how ice became an American staple... Rees does a masterful job illustrating how, in its rise and fall, the ice industry created many industry alliances and consumer habits that are still with us today. Ice has become a taken-for-granted feature of modern living. This book is the story of how that came to be."

"[Before the Refrigerator] is an in-depth portrayal of a once-indispensable, life-changing technology, the former existence of which is as unknown to most of us as that of the telegraph or canal is to today's undergraduates... Rees synthesizes considerable archival research and presents interpretations of importance to scholars... Before the Refrigerator is as refreshing as ice water on a hot summer day."