The Frozen Water Trade

Though not the typical kind of book I link to from here, The Frozen Water Trade is an insightful look at an early American entrepreneur who created an entire industry.

Amazon: “[The book] introduces turn-of-the-19th-century Bostonian Frederic Tudor as an indefatigable American dreamer who sought to give people something they didn’t know they wanted-and make a killing while he’s at it. Tudor hatches scheme after scheme to “farm” ice from New England ponds and deliver chunks of the brand-new commodity to the Caribbean, and ultimately to India and elsewhere, so that items like cold beverages and ice cream become cultural staples. Along the way Tudor encounters disbelievers, creditors, rivals, imprisonment, yellow fever, warm weather, political scuffles-even pirates. Weightman also delves engagingly into the science of freezing and the particulars and economics of ice transport and storage. Through it all, Weightman juggles the players in the burgeoning but finally ephemeral business while he spins a tale of a pre-refrigerated world. Issues of commerce and entrepreneurship in an infant nation are revealed in this page-turner, which gets its title from the name of the industry. When Weightman visits Tudor’s original ice source, locals think the author is loony for suggesting that cubes from the pond cooled people in Calcutta two centuries earlier-and made one man (and perhaps many others) rich in the process. Weightman takes a relatively unknown part of history (and the figure at its center), and creates a funny, rollicking human adventure.”

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