Alfred Hassner and Irishi Namboothiri
2011 | 640pp | £48.99 (HB)
ISBN 9780080966304

In this new edition the authors deliver a comprehensive guide to named reactions in organic synthesis. Woven between the classic named reactions which will be familiar to most readers are many which may not – over the course of the various editions, Hassner and colleagues have assigned names to a huge number of transformations which, whilst useful, were previously anonymous. Some may inevitably object to particular names being selected over others during this process; such is the nature of collaborative science. These concerns should, however, be pushed aside since what results is truly an invaluable resource, documenting genuinely useful reactions in an accessible and concise format.

The layout of the main text, whilst highly informative, is clear and compact. Each reaction is afforded up to one page. Yet within that relatively meagre space, the authors manage to give a description of the transformation (including mechanistic considerations where appropriate), a full and specific experimental procedure, and a series of carefully chosen references, in each case ranging from the seminal publication to some recent examples.

So often books that incorporate experimental procedures can feel stodgy or disjointed; this book avoids those pitfalls with aplomb. Having all the information together means no more hunting in appendices for relevant references, and gives an idea of practical considerations before the reader embarks on an extensive literature search. Furthermore, reactions are effectively cross-referenced within the text and the book features an excellent – yet characteristically compact – index, including a table in which reactions are sorted by functional group transformation.

Readers familiar with one or both of the previous two editions will certainly want to investigate this latest version; the improvements go far beyond cosmetic changes and deliver an excellent reference text that would be an asset to libraries and bookshelves everywhere.

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