Publication Date: 09/11/2023 ISBN: 9781526631190 Category:

A Cold Spell

Max Leonard

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 09/11/2023 ISBN: 9781526631190 Category:




Taking us from the beginning of our story to the present day, A Cold Spell examines how ice has shaped our thoughts, actions and societies – and what it means for us that it is rapidly disappearing from our planet

‘A warm-hearted tale of the bizarre, something to cuddle up with in the bleak midwinter . . . Astonishing’ THE TIMES
‘Bracingly original . . . As the earth warms threateningly, there could hardly be a more pertinent time for a story like this’ MICHAEL PALIN
‘A book of limitless fascinations’ OLIVIA LAING
‘Brightly written, nimbly researched and really quite delightful’ LITERARY REVIEW

Ice has confounded, delighted and fascinated us since the first sparks of art and culture in Europe and it now underpins the modern world. Without ice, we would not feed ourselves or heal our sick as we do, and our towns and cities, countryside and oceans would look very different. Science would not have progressed along the avenues it did and our galleries and libraries would be missing many masterpieces.

A Cold Spell uses this vital link to understanding our past to tell a surprising story of obsession, invention and adventure – how we have lived and dreamed, celebrated and traded, innovated, loved and fought over thousands of years. It brings together a sacrificial Incan mummy, Winston Churchill’s secret plans for unusual aircraft carriers, strange bones that shook Victorian beliefs about the world and a macabre journey into the depths of the human body. It is an original and unique way of looking at something that is literally all around us, whose loss confronts us daily in the news, but whose impact on our lives has never been fully explored.

‘[An] extraordinary, complete and utter history of the human experience of the cold stuff’ JOHN LEWIS-STEMPEL, COUNTRY LIFE
‘A thought-provoking chronicle of humanity . . . Leonard consistently frames ice in surprising and insightful ways, and in doing so lends it a magical quality’ GEOGRAPHICAL

Publisher Review

A book of limitless fascinations, an elegant and subtle accounting of how ice has shaped and changed human life, and how in turn humans have imperilled the existence of icy places -- Olivia Laing In a bracingly original book, Max Leonard makes something we all take for granted into an absorbing pathway into history, geography and science . . . A highly readable feast of insights and surprises . . . As the earth warms threateningly, there could hardly be a more pertinent time for a story like this -- Michael Palin Put everything on ice and read this book - a wonderful history of ingenuity, wanderlust, preservation and exploitation. Max Leonard has written an original chronicle of human nature, and you'll skate through it with enduring insight and pleasure -- Simon Garfield A brilliant and surprising book on unexpected ways ice has influenced not just Western thought but the way we live now. Come for the research, stay for the unexpected cameos -- Jennifer Lucy Allan A pleasure on every page. It's packed with fascinating stories and unexpected connections. What you've done so successfully is to give the reader the chance to care for ice and to understand the role it's had in our lives, real and imaginary. Everybody who reads your book will be captivated each time ice chinks and bobs in a glass. Ice is now our destiny. By melting en masse, it is bringing chaos to Earth systems -- Nicholas Crane Beautiful, thoughtful and utterly fascinating on everything from cave paintings to Captain Birdseye - the kind of book you feel compelled to share bits from as you're reading -- Felicity Cloake From Otzi the Iceman to Alpine adventurers, the invention of the cold chain to cloud seeding, A Cold Spell fills the cryosphere with stories to reconnect us to this all-too-fragile, frozen world. Europeans may have sought mastery over ice for hundreds of years, but Leonard shows how ice has shaped us too: in his deft hands it becomes a mirror revealing "the extraordinary in the ordinary", bringing home both the awe and the unease of the Anthropocene -- Jay Owen

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