Thorburn Burns, Klaus Müller, Reiner Salzer and Gerhard Werner
2014 | 142pp | £44.99
This book is part of a series, Springer briefs in molecular science, devoted to the history of chemistry. Following a general overview, each chapter consists of a very short introduction followed by a series of biographical entries, which are well referenced (mainly to German publications).
Each biographical entry comprises the chemist’s education and training (with institutional affiliations) together with a summary of their contributions to analytical chemistry; most are accompanied by a portrait photograph. Many names will be familiar to those who have studied chemistry to even a basic level, such as Justus Liebig and Robert Bunsen. Others, however, will be less well known except to historians of analytical chemistry. With such compilations there are the almost inevitable debates concerning the reasons for setting geographical boundaries and what constitutes analytical chemistry within the broader subject of chemistry. Despite this issue, the book extends our understanding of German chemists’ role in the advancement of analytical chemistry (and chemistry in general), as well as providing a useful reference for those wishing to know more about individual chemists and the nature of their contribution.
While the text is easy to read and the photographs are generally well produced, my one criticism concerns access to the entries, which are arranged in order of the chemist’s birth date within each chapter rather than alphabetically; there is no index to provide easy access to a particular person. Nevertheless, this book makes a useful addition to the chemical literature and is recommended to chemists and, in particular, historians of chemistry.
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