Shriver and Atkins inorganic chemistry (4th edition)

Shriver and Atkins inorganic chemistry (4th edition)

Peter Atkins, Tina Overton, Jonathan Rourke, Mark Weller and Fraser Armstrong    

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press | 2006 | 848 pp | ?37.99 (SB) | ISBN 0199264635 

Reviewed by David Rankin

Inorganic chemistry by Shriver and Atkins has now transmogrified into Shriver and Atkins inorganic chemistry, with five authors, four of them new. Together they have shuffled the contents, rewritten some parts, added others, and overhauled the presentation. The outcome is recognisably our old friend, revitalised by the face lift.

The shuffling has resulted in three sections. ’Foundations’ are much as they were, but with valuable additions, most notably a new chapter on spectroscopic, diffraction, analytical and computational techniques. Other new sections include one on generating symmetry-adapted linear combinations of atomic orbitals, an excellent and welcome feature. Elsewhere, transition metals are rightly no longer an advanced topic, but have four chapters in the ’Elements and their compounds’ section. ’Frontiers’ is really applications, with all current bandwagons represented, ie lots of words beginning cat-, mat-, bio- and nano-.

Rewriting is a mixed blessing. Sometimes the material is clearer or more logically presented, sometimes less so. Changes in presentation include redrawing all diagrams in colour. The results are certainly prettier, and in many cases easier to comprehend, but unfortunately with many more typographical errors than there should be (I found four in 13 structures, from a random starting point).

This is a teaching aid, not an encyclopaedia. There are worked examples and ’self tests’, exercises (straightforward) and problems (more demanding); appendices (resource sections) with useful data, and a fair amount of material available online (including all diagrams, for free use by teachers). The downside is that to find out about the chemistry of, say, germanium, you have to hunt for it. There are perhaps 30 lines, widely scattered - compared with nine pages on boranes. Yes, I know that carba/metalla/whateva-boranes are fun, but are they important?

Overall, this book is not perfect, but is substantially improved from a sound starting point, and excellent value.