Mark Green

ScienceFromAway Publishing 

2012 | 452pp | £15.46

ISBN 9780615702711

Organic chemistry principles in context joins a large selection of excellent textbooks currently available to organic chemistry students. This text, however, departs from the format that one would usually encounter at this level, namely a sequence of chapters describing closely related concepts. Instead, the author presents a series of topics that range from the development and application of industrial processes to the chemistry of important biochemical pathways, leading the reader through the concepts required to understand the topic discussed on a need to know basis. A representative example is that the concept of acidity and basicity is taught in the context of gasoline production rather than as a standalone topic. 

Overall, the approach is a particularly refreshing and innovative method of teaching organic chemistry. The emphasis on historical background and the clear, narrative style make the text very readable, skilfully linking seemingly unrelated material. Importantly, at no point does the text read merely as a list of facts for the reader to assimilate. 

There are many satisfying touches that work well with the writing style; the book makes reference throughout to key scientists in the relevant fields and where possible their photograph is provided. In addition, there are many interesting anecdotes and personal perspectives at appropriate points. A pleasing feature is the inclusion of extracts from influential research publications in particular sections, a good example being an excerpt from the historic Edward Hughes and Christopher IngoldJ. Chem. Soc. paper (DOI: 10.1039/jr9350000244) on nucleophilic substitution reactions. All chapters are well illustrated with clear diagrams or mechanistic schemes and are closed with summaries of the key concepts discussed. 

Organic chemistry principles in context will be a valuable text for undergraduate students and is excellent value for money. That said, the book’s appeal is certainly not limited to undergraduates – it will also be of interest to postgraduates, tutors or indeed anyone with an interest in organic chemistry.

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