Michael Smith

US: CRC Press 2010 | Pp1592 | £59.99 (HB) | ISBN 978 142 007 920 3

Reviewed by Martina Lahmann

Cover of Organic chemistry: an acid-base approach

If you fancy writing essays, reading thick books, and are easily distracted by illustrations, then Organic Chemistry: An Acid-Base Approach by Michael Smith is possibly a perfect match. 

The equilibrium between hydrochloric acid and water, complete with curly arrows and a much abbreviated pK table, is one of the first things I present undergraduates when introducing organic chemistry. I was therefore excited to get my hands on a textbook that is marketed as 'designed to provide a new approach to teaching organic chemistry. via  an acid-base theme'. However, opening the book for the first time was somewhat of an anticlimax - 1574 pages of block text. 

The overall content and the order of the chapters is very similar to other undergraduate chemistry textbooks. After a brief historical overview and a chapter on the acid-base theme, the standard programme is rolled out, although with an almost unbroken emphasis on the acid-base approach. 

The book is illustrated to a much lesser extent than comparable undergraduate textbooks - nothing negative by itself - but the majority of figures and schemes are unnecessarily small and there is no consistent style. More troubling are the bond angles in many of the structures that do not follow common practice. 

On the other hand the body of the text is easy to read, and the well chosen questions following almost every paragraph encourage the reader to start digesting the provided information immediately. 

Despite the number of typographical errors and some factual slips, this book is a valuable encyclopaedia and a rich source of revision problems for both undergraduate and postgraduate chemistry students. 

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Organic chemistry: an acid-base approach

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