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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Each time Professor Pierre Laszlo teaches general chemistry to freshmen, he delights in asking the students questions like, "Why put salt on snowy roads?" or "Why salt the water for boiling eggs?" -- that is, questions that bridge the separation between everyday life and knowledge, between one discipline and another.
Here Laszlo bridges every conceivable academic boundary as he sprints through literature, anthropology, physics, biology, art history, chemistry, ethnology, and more in search of the telling fact, proverb, or anecdote about salt. The result is a fascinating, somewhat scholarly picture of the contributions "white gold” has made to human history and culture.
The provocative chapter headings give you a good idea of Laszlo's range: Salt-Cured Foods, Nomads, Harvesting, Abuse of Power, Other Science Insights, Myths, Ethics and Politics. Within each of these broad chapters are short, encyclopedia-style entries, written in elegant prose. You'll find out about the rituals and liturgical uses of salt in the Bible, the Scandinavian superstition of sprinkling a pinch of salt to protect evil spirits, the way the nomadic routes followed salt deposits, and the role salt played in Gandhi's protest against the British. You'll learn the derivations of the word "salary," and the phrases "above the salt" or "below the salt "to denote table seating. All attest to the power and influence of salt in civilization.
Salt: Grain of Life also includes six pages of illustrations, including a familiar, happy photo of a tourist bobbing in the Dead Sea, and Gandhi and his followers on the Salt March to the sea. (Ginger Curwen)