This is a readable and engaging introduction to chemistry at a fairly demanding first year undergraduate level
Chemical structure and reactivity: an integrated approach
James Keeler and Peter Wothers
Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press 2008 | 944pp | ?38.99 (SB) ISBN 9780199289301
Reviewed by Jonathan Clayden
This is a readable and engaging introduction to chemistry at a fairly demanding first year undergraduate level.
The authors have tried to combine a rigorous orbital based approach to the subject with the more descriptive concepts necessary for understanding more complex molecules, and by and large I think they succeed. The algebraic maths is kept to a minimum, and I was impressed by the repeated return to graphical representation of orbitals and energy levels. I like the emphasis on drawing structures in particular.
Some of the material, however, strays significantly beyond what I would expect in a typical British first-year course (how many first year courses introduce second-order effects in NMR, or kinetic and thermodynamic enolates?), but would be useful for directed background reading. The rather quirky division of functional groups into ’levels’ makes sense, but because the concept is an innovation peculiar to this book it may end up confusing students more than enlightening them.
Overall, this book is a valuable resource which will challenge the stronger students to think, though I fear will also daunt those less confident in their ability.