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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.

About the Author

Jonathan Rees is a professor of history at Colorado State University–Pueblo. He is the author of Industrialization and the Transformation of American Life: A Brief Introduction and Refrigerator.

Reviews

A smart and illuminating book that will be of great interest to anyone engaged with either the history of technology or the history of food.

- American Historical Review

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.

- Business History

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.

- History: Reviews of New Books

A fascinating book.

- Heritage Radio

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.

- Journal of American Culture

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

- Biz India Magazine

[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.

- Food, Culture, and Society

Nowhere else can one find such rich information on everything from ice boxes to home freezers to refrigerated container ships... 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.

- Shane Hamilton - Agricultural History

Nowhere else can one find such rich information on everything from ice boxes to home freezers to refrigerated container ships... 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.

- Agricultural History

Endorsement

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.

- Mansel G. Blackford, author of Making Seafood Sustainable: American Experiences in Global Perspective
Johns Hopkins University Press
Studies in Industry and Society
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248 Pages
$29.95 USD
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248 Pages
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$29.95 USD

Other Titles by Jonathan Rees

Before the Refrigerator

Jonathan Rees
Mar 2018 - Johns Hopkins University Press
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Chasing Sound

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The Slain Wood

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Contested and Dangerous Seas

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Preserving Maritime America

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Experimental

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