Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is described on its publisher's website as "a concise student-friendly introductory textbook in biochemistry and molecular biology for life sciences students taking a first course in the topic". The authors describe their approach as having "an emphasis on the understanding of the molecular strategies that constitute life, with the presentation stripped of detail not essential to that understanding".
The book is aimed at students embarking on their first university course on the subject. It starts with a very clear description of the contents of each chapter. The text is liberally illustrated with clear colour diagrams that are available to download from the website. The concise style allows brief coverage of very broad-ranging and up-to-date subject areas including proteomics, ribozymes, the creation of knockout mice, prion diseases and microtubules.
For those familiar with the first edition, the major changes include the addition of chapters on enzymes and their properties, protein targeting and cancer molecular biology. Gene transcription and its control have been revised totally, as has cell signalling. Descriptions of the rotary action of ATP synthase and the swinging-lever mechanism of muscle contraction are updated. Full details of the updates are given at www.oup.co.uk/best.textbooks/biochemistry/elliottcws . This website features links that are general to the subject area and specific links for different chapters of the book. It also provides additional material in the form of downloadable images and an "Instructor's Manual", which is organised into "Objectives", "Course outline", "Discussion points" and "Questions" (with answers) for every chapter.
The book fulfils its aims well, providing a clear course through an ever-increasing volume of material and concentrating on the explanation of concepts. However, after the "detail not essential to... understanding" has been stripped away, the amount of information the book provides on a number of subject areas taught in our own biochemistry course would not be sufficient for a candidate to earn a high-class biochemistry honours degree (or the equivalent in first-year exams). It also has a very limited treatment of numerical aspects of biochemistry, an area where many students would like to see more support. Nevertheless, this textbook provides a reasonably priced companion to more detailed biochemistry texts and could be very valuable to students (particularly non-biochemistry honours students) looking for an up-to-date and digestible text.
Andrea Hadfield is lecturer in biochemistry, University of Bristol.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Author - William H. Elliott and Daphne C. Elliott
ISBN - 0 19 870045 8
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Price - £23.99
Pages - 586