Your mid-summer refrigeration history update.

Why haven’t I been blogging more?  Writing.  Refrigerator is now out of my hands and is scheduled to appear in September.  I wrote that last summer as something of a lark – heck, at least half of it isn’t even history – but it was lots of fun to do.

This summer I’ve been spending all my spare time on How We Used to Get Ice for Johns Hopkins againIf Refrigeration Nation is like the trunk of a tree, starting with 1806 at the base and the present at the top, this is the book where I follow some of the middle branches out towards their ends.  There’s a lot more juicy detail on natural ice harvesting, ice delivery men – even ice skating rinks and ice cream – not in either of the two previous books.  [Yes, that’s how much material got left on the proverbial cutting room floor for Refrigeration Nation.  I repeat a few small points and cite myself, but otherwise it’s all new evidence.]  I’m grateful that Hopkins gave me the opportunity to put more of all that research out in print.  All I have left to do is write the conclusion and then I’ll see how they like it.  Hopefully, it will appear sometime next year.

Speaking of Refrigeration Nation, the academic publishing and review process is so bloody slow that I’m just now seeing some of the stuff that was published about the book earlier this year.  Here’s a piece of one from History: Reviews of New Books which I just got this morning:

Refrigeration Nation is a well-written and useful book for both scholars and students.  Readers can learn a great deal from how Rees has researched, organized and presented his ideas and materials.”

Here’s part of the review in Agriculture History by Shane Hamilton (who I know from conferences, but then again that’s what makes him such a good choice as a reviewer):

“Rees’ book is a most welcome contribution to our understanding of how Americans came to expect cold drinks, unpickled produce, and unsalted meats as a matter of course.”

This is the last paragraph of the Food Culture & Society review:

Rees…is well equipped to write this scholarly and comprehensive account of the history of coolness. He 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.

As you might imagine, this all makes me very happy.

Should all this reviewing incline you to actually purchase a copy of Refrigeration Nation. you can click the cover over on the right.  They tell me that I’m on the list for the next meeting to discuss what’s next to come out in paperback, but honestly I have no idea how long that might take.  At least these reviews greatly increase my confidence that you’ll see Refrigeration Nation in paperback before too long.

Posted by Jonathan Rees

Professor of History, Colorado State University - Pueblo.

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