Ice: The Nature, the Hstory, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance

Mariana Gosnell, Author . Knopf $30 (560p) ISBN 978-0-679-42608-0

Eskimos have more than a dozen words for sea ice; compared with Gosnell, they're downright thrifty. A self-professed "pagophile" ("lover of ice"), Gosnell exhausts the matter of frozen water in this needlessly long and maddeningly repetitive tome. A former Newsweek science reporter and author of Zero Three Bravo, she writes smoothly and wrings a measure of interest from her various subjects—sea ice, lake ice, river ice, space ice, ice games, frostbite, John Wayne Bobbitt (yes, that Mr. Bobbitt). But this book is an often mystifying precipitate of facts, curious words and anecdotes that could be slashed in half with no ill effect. The book also suffers from an overdose of distracting literary quotations on nearly every page. To be sure, ice is not a trivial substance. At the caps it locks up the vast majority of the world's fresh water; it confounds land and sea travel and commerce; it's a major hazard and a major source of winter fun. All this Gosnell argues convincingly. The trouble is, she's like a speed skater who can't stop going in circles. 16 pages of photos. (Nov. 18)

Reviewed on: 09/26/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Paperback - 560 pages - 978-0-226-30496-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 470 pages - 978-0-307-79146-7
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