Summary and book reviews of The Frozen Water Trade by Gavin Weightman

The Frozen Water Trade

A True Story

By Gavin Weightman

The Frozen Water Trade
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jan 2003,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2004,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

In the tradition of Cod by Mark Kurlansky, a remarkable book about a long-forgotten historical phenomenon that changed our world -- the rise and fall of the natural ice industry in nineteenth-century North America.

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 sea voyage. Packed in hay in the hold were large chunks of ice harvested from a frozen Massachusetts lake. This was the first venture of a young Boston merchant, Frederic Tudor, who imagined he could make a fortune selling ice to tropical countries.

Ridiculed from the outset by fellow merchants, Tudor endured years of hardship before he was to fulfill his dream. Over 30 years, he and his rivals extended the "frozen water trade" to Cuba, Charleston, New Orleans, New York, and London, and finally to Calcutta, when in 1833 more than one hundred tons of ice survived a four-month voyage of 16,000 miles with two crossings of the Equator.

Tudor not only made a fortune, he founded a huge industry, which each winter employed thousands of men and horses to harvest millions of tons of ice. Thanks to his astonishing enterprise, iced drinks, chilled beer, and homemade ice cream became essential to the American way of life, and cooled the brows of communities throughout the world long before artificial refrigeration -- after which the frozen-water trade melted away.

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.

Chapter 1
The Frozen Assets of New England

When the brothers William and Frederic Tudor agreed to put together what money they had in the summer of 1805 and invest it in a scheme to sell ice to the West Indies, they held the plan close to their chests. They had dreamed up the idea after spending some pleasant weeks on the family farm, Rockwood, near Boston. It was just a few miles inland from this city, the great port that seethed with shipping and merchants, many of whom had made fortunes trading around the world in all kinds of luxury goods. New England itself had little of value to export: there was no iron or coal or cotton, and the farmland was picturesque but poor. Most of Boston's trade was secondhand: the Yankee merchants had a sharp eye for other nations' goods, which they bought and sold as their ships scoured the world for bargains.

Just to the north, the port of Salem had more or less cornered the market in peppercorns, reexporting in 1805 7.5 million tons of the ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
Booklist - Gilbert Taylor

Curiosity about the vanished ice industry energizes Weightman's narrative, a pleasing reminder of a forgotten but once-ubiquitous business.

Publishers Weekly

Weightman, a London journalist and documentary filmmaker, uncovers a secret history and ends up transforming a dull-sounding topic into a riveting read.... [he] takes a relatively unknown part of history (and the figure at its center), and creates a funny, rollicking human adventure.

Kirkus Reviews

British journalist Weightman brings back the days when an icebox was truly an ice box....A fascinating and vast industry, melted away as completely as an ice cube on a summer sidewalk, but delightfully preserved here.

Reader Reviews
Scott

Mr. Weightman's book is both a delight to read, as well as an extremely useful study in entrepreneurial spirit. I like it so much, in fact, I assigned it as required reading for a class in Entrepreneurship at the university where I teach. Fun, well...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Frozen Water Trade, try these:

  • Coal jacket

    Coal

    by Barbara Freese

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    'Offers an exquisite chronicle of the rise and fall of this bituminous black mineral.... Part history and part environmental argument, Freese's elegant book teaches an important lesson about the interdependence of humans and their natural environment both for good and ill throughout history.'

  • Salt jacket

    Salt

    by Mark Kurlansky

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Deftly leading readers around the world and across cultures and centuries, Kurlansky takes an inexpensive, mundane item and shows how it has influenced and affected wars, cultures, governments, religions, societies, economies & food. An entertaining, informative read.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.