Curved arrows that hit both American and British targets

Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry - General, Organic and Biochemistry
January 4, 2002

The sixth edition of Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry is a well-presented book that is easy and enjoyable to read. It is aimed at the American health-science student, but appears suitable for use by British health and bio-science undergraduates in first-year and, to an extent, second-year courses. The book is factually thorough and attractive with plenty of good illustrations and examples, and the frequent use of "boxes", topical asides, makes the text interesting and relevant.

There are three sections to the book, as indicated by its title. The first is aimed at students with little background in chemistry, although it would be suitable as a refresher course on general chemistry. This section is well explained in relatively simple terms and is pleasingly quantitative in much of its approach. Probably the weakest section is the second one dealing with organic chemistry, which, although adopting a traditional "functional group" approach seems somewhat limited in scope with no reference to, for example, hybridisation and minimal use of the curved-arrow formalism. Most students on health and bio-science courses are likely to come across these aspects during organic chemistry lectures and laboratories. In addition, this section appears to suffer in presentational terms when compared with the other two sections. The third section on biochemistry is interesting and nicely presented, with plenty of good illustrations, schemes and figures. It is probably too thinly spread to be used by biochemistry students, but should satisfy the requirements of the target readership. The inclusion of some useful appendices, answers and a glossary rounds off the book, which is supported by a full range of ancillary publications.

General, Organic and Biochemistry , now in its third edition, is comparable in format to the first book, with the same three parts, and is targeted at the same readership. Almost all of the comments about the earlier book can be applied to the second book, although some topics are dealt with in a little more detail and the overall presentation is less glossy. Again the organic chemistry section is the weakest, with little or no mention of mechanism. In summary, these are both very readable textbooks that should appeal to students. They are most suited to first-year health-science, medical and bio-science (except biochemistry) students.

Ian D. Cunningham is lecturer in organic chemistry, University of Surrey.

Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry

Author - Frederick A Bettelheim, William H Brown and Jerry March
ISBN - 0 03 0291747
Publisher - Thomson
Price - £29.95
Pages - 713

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