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Book Review Aspekte der Organischen Chemie Band 1 Struktur. Edited by G. Quinkert E. Egert and C

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Lateral Thinking on Organic Textbooks
Aspekte der Organischen Chemie.
Band 1 : Struktur. Edited by G.
Quinkrrt. E . Egert and C. Gripsinger.
Verlag Helvetica Chimica A c t a ,
Hasel, 1995. 503 pp., hardcover
DM 148.00: --ISBN 3-906390-11-X
The English version is planned for
later this year ( I S B N 3-906390-15-2).
I t can be said straight away that this
first volume, on structure, in the series AsCheniie forms an
pektc. c1c.r. Urgo~iisc~hi~n
excellent addition to the existing range of
textbooks. and it can be recommended
both for students and for all involved in
the teaching and practice of chemistry. In
i t s approximately 500 pages it offers the
reader ;I view of organic chemistry from a
mainly structural standpoint, which cannot be found elsewhere. Many of the topics included. such as the analysis of the
crystal structure of diamond and the Prelog catalog of regular tetrahedral structures, are treated didactically for the first
time in a structural context. The presentation of the subject matter is esthetically
pleasing with a carefully written text. thus
helping the reader to understand the more
difficult concepts. Nevertheless, the book
i s not easy reading, and the novice will
probably need to use it in conjunction
with a more conventional textbook. The
intention of the editors and authors is to
develop the student's ability for independent learning, for which the excellent bibliographies at the ends of the chapters are
a valuable aid. Many of the chapters begin
with an interesting historical introduction
which provides some light relief. At the
This section c ~ n t i i i i i \book reviews and a list of
new book5 recei\ b! theeditor. Book reviewsare
written hy invitation liom the editor. Suggestions
lor book\ to he rcricwed and Tor book reviewers
;ire wcIco~ne Publishers should send brochures o r
(better) hook.; l o Dr. Illcnora Beckmann. Redaklion Ange\*.uidtc ('hernie. Postlbch 1011 61.
IMY451 Weinhciin. Federal Republic of Geriii.iny. The cditor r e s x r e s the right of selecting
which book\ \\ill hi. reviewed Uninwted hooks
not chovm for r c i i c u will not be rcturned.
beginning of Chapter 8 there is even a
short introduction to the ideas of Karl
Popper concerning the philosophy of
The volume is divided into two parts,
with a gray stripe throughout the margin
of Part 2 to emphasize the distinction.
Part 1 consists of eight chapters which introduce the structural aspects of organic
chemistry [constitution, configuration,
and conformation (Chapter 2), chirality
and symmetry (Chapter 3), molecular topology (Chapter 4)] and discuss examples
of their application to specific topics in
classical and modern chemistry. Other
chapters explain the fundamentals needed
for understanding this part of the book. In
a very thorough didactic style the book
introduces some highly topical areas of
research in biological chemistry, thereby
bridging the gap between organic chemistry and biology. with special emphasis
on the structural analysis of supermolecules and their constituent units.
Thus, structural considerations are applied not only to compounds such as carbohydrates and steroids (Chapters 5 and
6) but also to supramolecular structures
such as the diamond lattice (Chapter 7).
The latter chapter in Part 1 also contains
an excellent discussion of the stereostructural aspects of DNA, homo-DNA, and
pyranosyl-RNA. Other topics covered include base-pairing, the various conformations of DNA, and antigen and antisense
strategies. There i s a particularly good description of the conformational analysis
of peptides and their secondary structural
features, which is probably not treated
better in any other book. The setting-up
and "tagging" of peptide libraries is also
described. Here the authors have taken
the bold step of including detailed results
from very recent studies. However, they
caution that their experimental results,
theories, and hypotheses need to undergo
a period of expert criticism before being
accepted (see Chapter 1 : the outline of the
book's aims and the overall conclusion).
The last chapter of Part 1 discusses the
qualitative M O model. The authors then
use this model to interpret some conformational observations that cannot be explained on the basis of the classical structure model developed in Chapters 2.-6.
Part 2 highlights some important aspects of modern organic chemistry and
examines them in detail, and treats some
of the topics already mentioned in Part 1
in greater depth. These include the use of
information from data banks (Chapter 9),
symmetry, point groups. and space
groups (Chapter 1 l ) , the determination of
absolute configuration (Chapter 1 2 ) - an
introduction to NMR spectroscopy
(Chapter 13), and aromaticity (Chapter 14). Chapter 15 discusses hydrogenbonding, which plays an essential role in
the formation of supramolecular structures in chemistry and biology. However,
the treatment of this topic is not really
complete, as it does not include aspects
such as secondary electrostatic interactions. Based on the foregoing discussions.
the final chapter then deals with basepairing in biology and chemistry, explaining the basic principles underlying classical and modern molecular biology. The
Periodic System is shown inside the front
cover of the book and the genetic code
inside the back cover. The work provides
an excellent demonstration of the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the wideranging relevance of organic chemistry.
This volume on structure represents a notable advance for the teaching of organic
chemistry, and will be of great benefit to
students, not least because ot'the excellent
quality of the writing. It is not a textbook
in the conventional sense; instead it aims
to stimulate thought. and presents organic
chemistry in a slightly different and sometimes unusual way. After this first volume
of the series we await with interest Volume 2 (reactivity), Volume 3 (synthesis),
and Volume 4 (structure determination).
Tiioiiius Curell
Institut fur Organische Chemie
Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule
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