When searching for texts on asymmetric synthesis, this book might not be the first one I would pick up

Dynamic stereochemistry of chiral compounds: principles and applications 

Christian Wolf 

Cambridge, UK: RSC Publishing 2008 | 512pp | ?49.95 (HB) ISBN 9780854042463 

Reviewed by David Amabilino

When searching for texts on asymmetric synthesis, this book might not be the first one I would pick up, judging by its title alone - yet it principally deals with just that. It offers an overview of the most important aspects of introducing, interconverting, and translocating chirality in the preparation of compounds (mainly organic, although coordination and organometallics are touched on) and closely related topics, including contemporary challenges. 

Seeing the words ’stereochemistry’ and ’compounds’ in the title makes one think immediately of Eliel, Wilen and Mander’s massive work Stereochemistry of organic compounds; it is impossible not to. Although Wolf’s book in no way challenges that masterpiece, I feel it is presented in a way which gives a uniquely bright outlook on particular aspects, and lays down a contemporary, concise, coherent and entertaining romp through dynamic stereochemistry. The only omission (as the authors freely admit) which disappointed me a bit, is materials-related stereochemistry: polymers and liquid crystals are ruled out through restrictions of space. 

There are three main parts to the book. The first is a brief introduction to general stereochemistry and to dynamics, with a discussion of the principles behind phenomena such as racemisation and diastereomerisation. The second part deals mainly with asymmetric synthesis, including the application of stereodynamic systems in the area. Finally, ’stereodynamic devices’ and ’molecular machines’, as well as topological stereochemistry, are discussed. 

The book is well produced, very clear and readable, with a particularly comfortable format. A basic knowledge of stereochemistry is required, but I would recommend the work for advanced students - masters and doctoral stage researchers - as well as the broad-minded professional.