Matthew Almond reviews this reference text fur university students

Book cover

Techniques in organic chemistry (2nd edn)
Jerry R. Mohrig, Christina Noring Hammond and Paul F. Schatz
Basingstoke: W. H. Freeman 2007 | Pp312 | £36.99 | ISBN 0 716 76935 2

This book is designed as a reference work for students doing organic practical chemistry at university. Although designed for the American market, this would be useful to British students. Good A-level students would find material of interest too. 

The content covers a wide range of material, starting with simple laboratory procedures, such as weighing, distillation and recrystallisation, and ending with the interpretation of spectral and chromatographic data. Also included are safety and environmental information and a section on using databases. There are some useful diagrams showing how apparatus should be set up and manipulated, including what can go wrong. 

All of this is good and I would be happy to recommend the book. However, there are several features that I find a little irritating. At times I find the language to be patronising, and some of the diagrams seem to me to be unnecessary - do we really need pictures of short and long-necked 5 ml flasks and a short-necked 10 ml flask side by side? And I find the statement 'includes modern spectroscopy' irritating - would the authors really have included sections on 'old-fashioned spectroscopy'.  

However, putting aside these criticisms this would still make a useful addition to the reference collection in the teaching laboratory. The book could help to solve the perennial problem of getting students to think about what they are actually doing when working in the laboratory.