cover of book

Ice: The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance
by Mariana Gosnell
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Paper: 978-0-226-30496-0
Library of Congress Classification QC926.32.G67 2007
Dewey Decimal Classification 551.31


More brittle than glass, at times stronger than steel, at other times flowing like molasses, ice covers 10 percent of the earth’s land and 7 percent of its oceans.

Mariana Gosnell here explores the history and uses of ice in all its complexity, grandeur, and significance. From the freezing of Pleasant Lake in New Hampshire to the breakup of a Vermont river at the onset of spring, from the frozen Antarctic landscape that emperor penguins inhabit to the cold, watery route bowhead whales take between Arctic ice floes, Gosnell examines icebergs, icicles, and frostbite; sea ice and permafrost; ice on Mars and in the rings of Saturn; and several new forms of ice developed in labs. Arecord of the scientific surprises, cultural magnitude, and everyday uses of frozen water, Ice is a sparkling illumination of a substance whose ebbs and flows over time have helped form the world we live in.

“Gosnell travels to the ends of the earth, into the clouds and under the frozen sea to conduct her investigations . . . By the time you finish this remarkable book, you’ll never think about freezing and melting in quite the same way.”—New York Times Book Review

“To read Ice is to discover just how astonishing it is and how necessary.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A bright, curious, omnidirectional tour that will entrance nature readers.”—Booklist

“An encyclopedic work with surprises on every page . . . . Illustrated with images of ice castles, skaters, and bubble-filled frozen sculpture, Gosnell’s book breathes life into the crystals dubbed ‘glorious spangles’ by Henry David Thoreau.”—Discover

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