Better shapes for life

Organic Chemistry. Second Edition - Organic Chemistry. First Edition - Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry. First Edition - Essential Organic Chemistry

February 23, 2007

Organic chemistry is a discipline at the interface of biological and physical sciences, dedicated to the study of the shape, reactivity and synthesis of carbon-containing molecules. The subject is diverse and conceptu-ally imaginative. Owing to its broad nature, there is a wide variety of texts, in all shapes and sizes, each with their own distinct flavour and format. In recent years, this market has been dominated by the US, notably by Matland Jones, G. Marc Loudon, John McMurry and K. Peter C. Vollhardt. From the UK, Stuart Warren has proved a notable contender.

As the saying goes: "You can't tell a book by its cover." This is certainly true for Organic Chemistry by Thomas Sorrell; it is an expensive, unglamorous super heavyweight. However, once opened it reveals its true identity: an elegant and imaginative text. Its distinctiveness is due to its clarity and understanding of the information. It is easy to read and, most important, to understand. It contains excellent pictures, with well-designed diagrams. This text is aimed at the first and second-year undergraduate organic chemistry syllabus, and will also prove useful for students of life sciences and biological chemistry. Interwoven in each chapter is a variety of user-friendly examples and exercises. The text is worth every penny. There are no web-based media, but there is a supplementary solutions manual for the associated problems.

A new edition of Organic Chemistry by Paula Yurkanis Bruice provides first and second-year undergraduates with a comprehensive text describing virtu-ally all aspects of organic chemistry they need to know. It is part of a new breed that has appeared in the past few years aimed at promoting interactive learning. There is an extensive number of supplementary teaching aids, from additional student resources to a course and homework management system available on the publisher's website. This text is colourful and imaginative. It describes the fundamental aspects of organic chemistry by focusing on the concept of functionality and highlighting their mechanistic similarities. It adopts a methodical and systematic approach; it is well written and contains a huge number of diagrams and pictures. Each chapter cleverly references web-based media for enhanced learning, side-by-side tutorials and a section on getting the bigger picture. The text is well structured and student friendly, and should prove useful for foundation programmes.

Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry , by its very title, aims to highlight the underlying principles of organic chemistry (and their biological aspects) to first-year undergraduates of chemistry or life sciences. Overall, the text is well written and has excellent use of colour to aid visualisation.

Interlinked throughout each chapter are numerous question-and-answer sessions. This problem-oriented learning is additionally supported by supplementary information and web-based resources on the publisher's website.

By its very nature, organic chemistry is at the interface of biological and physical sciences. So it is only natural for organic chemistry to be taught from the perspective of its biological implications. Essential Organic Chemistry certainly delivers its aim: "Organic chemistry is not learnt by reading: paper and pencil are essential at all times." This text adopts a mechanism-based approach, through the use of well-structured examples, and is aimed primarily at first and second-years. This text is user friendly and comprehensive; it contains many noteworthy features, such as exam tips and common undergraduate mistakes and misnomers. It is a fascinating textbook and worth the price.

Jason Eames is a lecturer in synthetic organic chemistry, Hull University.

Organic Chemistry. Second Edition

Author - Thomas N. Sorrell
Publisher - University Science Books
Pages - 988
Price - £45.99
ISBN - 1 89138938 6

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