This book brings to mind the poet Horace’s formula for successful writing: He wins every hand who mingles profit with pleasure, by delighting and instructing the reader at the same time. Eric Block has certainly mixed the useful and the sweet in his book. I started Block’s book as a reviewer and became an admirer. A book that contributes so richly to my teaching and understanding of chemistry is a rare pleasure.
This unique book, with a foreword by 1990 Nobel Laureate E.J. Corey, outlines the extensive history and the fascinating past and present uses of these plants. The author has carefully sorted out fact from fiction based upon detailed scrutiny of historic documents as well as numerous laboratory studies. Readers will be entertained and educated as they learn about early cultivation of garlic and other alliums while being introduced to their remarkable chemistry and biochemistry, much of which prominently features the element sulfur. They will learn how alliums have been portrayed and used in literature, poetry and the arts and how alliums are featured in the world's oldest cookbook. Technical material is presented in a manner understandable to a general audience, particularly through the use of illustrations to simplify more difficult concepts and explain how experimental work is conducted. The book is heavily illustrated with examples of alliums in art, literature, agriculture, medicine and other areas and includes rare botanical drawings of many members of the genus Allium. Fascinating reading for anyone with a general interest in science.