Bruno Linder

Singapore: World Scientific Press 2011 | Pp160 | £26 (HB) | ISBN 981 429 966 9

Reviewed by Anthony Meijer

Cover of Elementary Physical Chemistry

Physical chemistry is generally considered by students to be the hardest part of a study in chemistry, not in the least due to the range of concepts and mathematical context. According to the introduction for this textbook, 'the emphasis is not on mathematical rigor, although conceptual difficulties are not swept under the rug.' It was written for a one semester course in physical chemistry for science students. Because of differences in the curriculum, it could be used across three years in the UK.

The first thing one notices about this textbook is its compactness. Physical chemistry books used for undergraduate teaching tend to be mighty tomes of 500-1000 A4 pages. This one only comes in at 160 pages of A5 format.

It manages to cover most topics that are taught in a UK undergraduate degree. However it leaves out some subjects, for example statistical thermodynamics, which are covered in other standard texts. It does achieve this feat by adopting a terse, but to me very pleasant style, which is clearly rooted in the lecture notes upon which this book was based. This terse style is both a strength and a weakness of the book.

It will work well as a stand-alone textbook for good students and for those who already know some physical chemistry, since they are easily capable of filling any gaps in the exposition. However I suspect that a weaker student may struggle with this text. I should note that given its size students may actually carry it around with them and consult it, which will be much harder with other textbooks out there.

In summary, I conclude that this book achieves what it promises to do on the cover. It is an excellent, but very compact textbook, even though its style will not appeal to all students.

Related Links

 Elementary Physical Chemistry 

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