Student Review: Chemistry3: Introducing Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry

December 3, 2009

Chemistry has a reputation as a difficult, arcane subject, often reinforced by monolithic textbooks as unhelpful as they are intimidating. Stepping up to challenge this convention, Chemistry3 aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, while juggling theoretical rigour, historical contextualisation and accessibility. Impressively, the authors have produced a work that not only provides a map of the terrain, but also gets stuck into the nitty-gritty detail.

The motivation for such a vast undertaking seems to be unbridled enthusiasm for the subject and its possibilities. It would have been easy to get bogged down with differing strands, but a simple uncluttered layout, amply illustrated with contemporary "real world" examples, clearly demarcates different sections. The book positively blooms; it is beautifully illustrated and operates on many levels without appearing cluttered, juggling chemistry theory, equations and history in a manner that enriches rather than overloads the reading experience. Asides about the acid-bath murderer John Haigh appear comfortably a few pages before a lucid breakdown of the Henderson Hasselbach equation. The authors don't skimp on the history of chemistry research, with illuminating sidebars offering anecdotes on the founders of the science who often made jaw-dropping inferences while using crude methods and technologies.

The main body of the text is also complemented by sidebars that deal with examples that require more advanced mathematical skills. In addition, there is a generous appendix that covers core maths skills for the rusty. This "leave no man (or woman) behind" approach is extremely useful, and as a non-science graduate returning to university to study medicine, I wish I had found this book while I was preparing for medical school. As an introductory textbook to get students through the early part of their chemistry/life sciences degrees, I would highly recommend Chemistry3 for its scope, audacity and verve.

Who is it for? Undergraduate chemistry students early in their degrees.

Presentation: Exemplary.

Would you recommend it? For students requiring a general introduction to the subject (and as a rock-solid core textbook for lecturers), I would absolutely recommend it.

Chemistry3: Introducing Inorganic, Organic and Physical Chemistry

Authors: Andrew Burrows, John Holman, Andrew Parsons, Gwen Pilling and Gareth Price

Edition: First

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Pages: 1,416

Price: £42.99

ISBN: 97801997896

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