David Read reviews this textbook aimed at ’A-level plus a bit more’

General chemistry
Donald McQuarrie et al
New Jersey, US: University Science 2011 | Pp1116 | £49.95 (PB) | ISBN9781429201889
Reviewed by David Read

Cover of General chemistry

To a UK reader, the title General chemistry might sound a little vague, but for those familiar with the US system it will make perfect sense. Many introductory college chemistry courses in the US are called ‘General Chemistry’, providing content across all areas of the discipline at a level that could be described as ‘A-level plus a bit more’. 

The more advanced material in these courses will be covered by most UK undergraduate chemistry degrees before the end of semester one. As such it is difficult to see a market for this book in the UK as a course text. It is not advanced enough for university, but most teachers will consider it to be too advanced for A-level students. 

However, the quality of the book means that it should not be ruled out as a potential purchase for those studying A-level chemistry who want some challenging reading material to extend their knowledge, in preparation for study at a higher level. 

The writing style is very clear and accessible, and the text is accompanied by images and diagrams that have been chosen with care. Graphs and charts are included where appropriate, and everything appears in a logical order. The inclusion of historical anecdotes and biographies of the pioneers of chemistry are inspiring and offer something of a commentary about how we came to our current understanding of the subject. 

While there are many other books out there which do a similar job, there few which do it better. For a reader who is looking to learn a bit more than they need to know to pass the A-level exam, this book might be the perfect choice. It is worthy of consideration against the alternatives that are out there, and for the US market, it certainly ‘does what it says on the tin’.  

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General Chemistry

Copyright: 2011
Donald A McQuarrie