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The Frozen Water Trade: A True Storyby Gavin Weightman
Synopses & Reviews
Now in paperback, the fascinating story of America's vast natural ice trade which revolutionized the 19th century
On February 13, 1806, the brig Favorite left Boston harbor bound for the Caribbean island of Martinique with a cargo that few imagined would survive the month-long voyage. Packed in hay in the hold were large chunks of ice cut from a frozen Massachusetts lake. This was the first venture of a young Boston entrepreneur, Frederic Tudor, who believed he could make a fortune selling ice to people in the tropics.
Ridiculed at the outset, Tudor endured years of hardship before he was to fulfill his dream. Over the years, he and his rivals extended the frozen-water trade to Havana, Charleston, New Orleans, London, and finally to Calcutta, where in 1833 more than one hundred tons of ice survived a four-month journey of 16,000 miles with two crossings of the equator. The Frozen Water Trade is a fascinating account of the birth of an industry that ultimately revolutionized domestic life for millions of people.
In the tradition of Cod, the story of the rise and fall of the natural ice industry in nineteenth-century North America Success of Hardcover — The hardcover edition of The Frozen-Water Trade, published in January 2003, was selected as a Barnes and Nobles Discover New Writers and a Booksense 76 pick. New York Times bestselling author Linda Greenlaw called it a "thrilling work of history that kept me riveted, " and David Hays (My Old Man and the Sea) wrote "it is a book for anyone who loves tales of seafaring, history, and biography - all in one." Review attention was tremendous: "a funny, rollicking human adventure" (Publishers Weekly), "fascinating" (Kirkus), more reviews TK (National Geographic Advenure). Bestselling Comparisons — This kind of popular, up-market historical/adventure/quirky narrative non-fiction is in great demand today. First Book of its Kind - There has never before been a book for a mass audience about the frozen-water trade. It history has literally melted into obscurity; and, in the absence of any notable monuments to recall it, the whole of the extraordinary saga survives only in the records left in libraries and museums. The Frozen-Water Trade sets the record straight. Compelling Narrative - The author tells the story of the frozen-water trade through the remarkable life of Frederick Tudor, the wealthy Boston "Ice King" who had a crucial role in establishing this booming industry. His Tudor Ice Company continued to trade profitably until the last decade of the nineteenth century. Great American Story - The demand for, and the supply of, natural ice in nineteenth-century America touches on many aspects of the nation's food, industry, medicine, and domestic life.And the export trade illustrates the manner in which what could be called "the American way of life" had a profound and lasting influence on the rest of the world. In the nineteenth century, ice became, in the popular imagination, something quintessentially American. What were sometimes called "Crystal blocks of Yankee coldness" were, for a time, almost as internationally renowned as Coca Cola! Great New England Story - The center of "production" of frozen water was along the eastern seabord of New England, and this book has particular appeal to readers in Maine, Massachusetts, and other New England states. It is worth mentioning, too, that many stories set in that region of the U.S. have found a large audience (for example, The Perfect Storm or the novels of John Irving). Fascinating Subject - Ice is now so ubiquitous that we take for granted the myriad ways in which we use it on a daily basis. The Frozen-Water Trade offers fascinating descriptions of historical uses of ice - for example, the birth of ice cream and the varieties of ice houses in the stately homes of New England. On February 13, 1806, the brig Favorite left Boston harbor bound for the Caribbean island of Martinique, with a cargo that few imagined would survive the monthlong voyage. Packed in hay in the hold were large chunks of ice cut from a frozen Massachusetts lake. This was the first venture of a young Boston entrepreneur, Frederic Tudor, who believed he could make a fortune selling ice to people in the tropics. Ridiculed from the outset by fellow merchants, Tudor endured years of hardship before he was to fulfill his dream. Over thirty years, he and his rivals extended the "frozen-water trade" to Cuba, Charleston,New Orleans, New York, London, and finally to Calcutta, when in 1833 more than one hundred tons of ice survived a four-month journey of 16,000 miles with two crossings of the equator. For the next fifty years, Calcutta, Bomba, and Madras eagerly awaited their regular supplies of New England ice. Tudor not only made a fortune, he founded a huge industry that employed thousands of men and horses to "harvest" millions of tons of ice each winter. Thanks to his astonishing enterprise, iced drinks, chilled beer, and homemade ice cream became an essential part of our way of life, and cooled the brows of American city dwellers and colonial communities throughout the world long before artifical refrigeration became available - after which the frozen-water trade melted away, leaving little to show that it had ever existed. In this fascinating book, Gavin Weightman reveals the forgotten story of America's vast natural ice trade, which revolutionized domestic life for millions of people.
Weightman tells the story of the frozen-water trade through the remarkable life of Frederick Tudor, the wealthy Boston "Ice King" who had a crucial role in establishing this booming industry in 19th-century America.
About the Author
Gavin Weightman is a journalist, author, and documentary filmmaker. He lives in London, England, with his partner, Clare Beaton, an illustrator of children's books; their son, Tom; and her older children, Jack and Kate.
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