Stereochemistry at a glance

Stereochemistry at a glance
Jason Eames and Josephine Peach
Oxford,UK: Blackwell Publishers 2003 | Pp 144 | ?13.99 (SB) | ISBN 0632053755
Reviewed by Jonathan Clayden


Stereochemistry is a topic that many students have difficulty with at first, not least because it carries with it a whole new set of terms and concepts and its three-dimensional view is at odds with the two-dimensional paper world of most chemistry teaching.

This book aims to provide support to students challenged by courses on stereochemistry. It is based soundly on problem-solving: after a brief overview of the topic under consideration, each chapter is made up of a graded series of worked examples, each in a rather rigidly defined standard form, emphasising mechanistic understanding as the chemist’s principal problem-solving tool.

It is not a ’stand-alone’ text: the book is designed for use alongside more comprehensive sources of information (presumably a lecture course). Tutorial assistance is essential, and I found a few parts of the solution to some problems bafflingly redundant - as though I had an incomplete and therefore unhelpful insight into the problem setter’s thought process.

For the more able students it will provide a very useful tool for revision and development of their understanding of mechanism as well as of stereochemistry. Some less able students will be daunted, not least by its rather severe design (undiluted monochrome Chemdraw pictures), though the writing style is clear, friendly and approachable.

The first chapter differs from the others in being an overview of a variety of stereochemical topics, and it contains useful hints on drawing. In my experience it is some of the basic skills such as translating three-dimensional structures to a two-dimensional page and visualising the interconversion of conformers by bond rotation which provide students with the greatest challenges. The book would have been enhanced by this first chapter having plenty of worked examples as offered for the later chapters.