Macromolecular crystallization and crystal perfection

Macromolecular crystallization and crystal perfection 

Naomi Chayen, John Helliwell and Edward Snell

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press 2010 | 240pp | ?65.00 (HB)

ISBN 9780199213252

Reviewed by R J Lewis


According to the back cover of this excellent book, the target readership includes a diverse range of scientists. In my opinion, the authors have succeeded brilliantly in this aim; there really is something for everyone in this book, from graduate student to more experienced scientists, and for physicists, chemists and biologists. I had to insist that one of my post-docs returned the book to me so that I could complete the review in time! 

Despite 20 years experience of protein crystallography, I still found chapters within the book that covered topics I had never even considered before. One of the book’s key strengths is the way that many topics are covered in one place and provides a starting point for anyone wishing to know more about a specific topic. The referencing cannot be faulted in that the key references from the key individuals are all given, and so the book provides not only the key basic facts, but also provides the reader with the essential information to investigate further.

The most remarkable aspect of this book, though, is that the authors have managed to cram all this essential information into around 200 pages! It is clearly written and each chapter ends with a concise summary. The future perspectives in the last section are very definitely current areas of development. 

The book is timely and informative and certainly ought to be widely read by a range of different scientists with interests in macromolecular structure. I only wish that the figures could have been printed in full colour rather than greyscale, but this is a minor quibble.