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Book Review Boussingault. Chemist and Agriculturist. By F. W. J. McCosh

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Surveys of Organometallic Chemistry
Until a few years ago it was not possible to find a comprehensive textbook on organometallic chemistry. This
may at first seem surprising, but it is in fact quite understandable in view of the hectic pace of growth and expansions into new topics which has occurred in this field of
chemistry during the past four decades. Those who had
made significant contributions to the development of organometallic chemistry, and where thus the main potential
authors, held back because each new publication on the
current state of knowledge was likely to become outdated
by the time the printing was finished and the book bound.
Over the years, however, the principles have become progressively better defined; compound classes, reactivity patterns, structural characteristics and possible applications
have emerged more clearly and are better understood.
Thus, several books have just become available whose titles promise a more or less comprehensive treatment of organometallic chemistry:
Fundamental Transition Metal Organometallic Chemistry.
By C. M . Lukehart. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company,
Monterey, C A 1985. xiv, 447 pp., bound, $ 28.00.--ISBN
0-534-03801 -8.
Metallo-organic Chemistry. By A. J. Pearson. John Wiley,
Chichester 1985. xi, 398 pp., paperback, E 9.95.-ISBN
0-47 1-90446-5.
Basic Organometallic Chemistry. By I . Haiduc and J. J .
Zuckerman. Walter d e Gruyter, Berlin 1985. xxviii, 376
pp., bound, D M 169.00.-ISBN 3-1 1-007184-3.
I found the book by Haiduc and Zuckerman the most
useful, as it is generally well written from a teaching standpoint, and gives a not unduly detailed survey of the organometallic chemistry of the main and transition group elements. Although the treatment of laboratory techniques is
unfortunately not completely u p to date, the book makes a
good impression in all other respects. It presents in a clear
way the most important classes of compounds arranged
under groups for the main-group elements, and for the
transition metals according to the electron balance in the
complexing ligands. For advanced chemistry students the
section on “Organometallic compounds of non-transition
elements” (pp. 45-222) will be of great benefit, as the information is presented free from inessentials and with the
emphasis o n basic principles throughout. However, I feel
that an accompanying discussion article is needed as much
for this topic as for the comprehensive chapters on “Organometallic compounds of transition metals” (pp. 223-376),
as the importance of the various classes of compounds for
present-day chemistry in universities and industry is seldom treated as thoroughly as it ought to be. This book is
especially valuable for teaching purposes since, by means
of clear structural diagrams, it enables one to easily grasp
the essential facts. The price of the book is reasonable in
view of its content.
On comparing the above book with that by Lukehart, it
is evident at the first glance that this is a distinctly more
specialized work. As the title indicates, only the transition
metals are covered, though with a corresponding increase
Angew Chem. I n t . Ed. Engl. 25 11986) No. 11
in depth and thoroughness since the two books contain
similar numbers of pages. In the division of the book into
topics Lukehart has reached a good compromise between
important classes of compounds, principles of reactivity,
and-especially valuable for the industrial chemist-the
technical applications of modern organometallic chemistry. Classifications according to method of preparation,
spectroscopy and structure are, of course, clearly and fully
presented, and in many places further developed by comparison tables which contain a lot of information. The author’s tendency towards detail sometimes interferes appreciably with the flow of the text, especially when quite unnecessary data are added below the chemical equations
(e.g. on pp. 95, 97, 143, 145 ...). On the other hand Lukehart gives with each chapter a selection of literature references for studying the topics more thoroughly. The book is
a useful monograph for the research chemist rather than a
textbook, as the advanced chemistry student would find
the large number of individual compounds and their properties too much to cope with. I would refer them instead to
“Collman-Hegedus”, which is much easier and comprehensible for students, although at present it is unfortunately out of print.“] The book by Lukehart will be useful
to doctoral and post-doctoral students and academic staff
engaged in the organometallic field, especially when a
quick survey of a specialized topic is wanted. The book is
not lying before me on the desk, but I d o have it in the
bookshelf behind me.
I have not yet made so much of a start with the 400-page
work by A. J. Pearson. Although the book contains much
basic material on mechanisms and compound classes, I
find it lacks the overall guiding themes which make a book
valuable and worth reading. An incidental comment: the
title of the book promises more than is contained in the
text, as the main-group metals are not treated. Numerous
references to original literature are given, but these have
been covered more fully and effectively in other publications. I cannot recommend the purchase of this book to
any of the groups of readers mentioned earlier.
Wo(fgang A. Herrmann [ N B 761 IE]
Anorganisch-chemisches Institut
der Technischen Universitat Munchen, Garching (FRG)
Boussingault. Chemist and Agriculturist. By F. W. J.
McCosh. D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordrecht 1984. xv,
280 pp., bound, Hfl. 140.00.-ISBN 90-277- 1682-X
The French chemist and agronomist Jean Baptiste Boussingault (1802-1887) played a decisive role in determining
the character of agricultural chemistry in the 19th century.
A comprehensive biography in book form on his life and
his scientific work has been lacking until now. The book
under review fills this gap.
F. W. J . McCosh has compiled a very detailed account
of the individual periods of Boussingault’s life, drawing
upon all available source material. He thereby throws light
on the manifold interrelations with political, social, and
scientific communities.
J. P. Collman, L. G. Hegedus: Principles and Applications of Organo-transitiun Metal Chemistrv. University Science Books (Oxford University
Press, Oxford 1982).
The focal point of the biography is Boussingault’s work
as an agricultural chemist, above all his experimental activity at the Alsatian experimental farm Bechelbronn,
where he carried out extensive laboratory and field experiments on mineral fertilization. McCosh has rightly given
ample space to Boussingault’s experiments on the nitrogen
requirements of plants. It was indeed Boussingault who in
1837 provided experimental evidence for the first time that
leguminous plants can obtain the nitrogen that they need
for growth from the air, even though this finding was acknowledged only fifty years later by the scientific community as a valid theory. 1986 is the 100th anniversary of Hermann Hellriegel’s disclosure of the basis for nitrogen binding in leguminous plants; in remembering this discovery,
one must also think of Boussingault, the father of the idea
of nitrogen fixation. Therefore McCosh’s biography appears at an opportune moment: it contains broad background information concerning the prehistory of Hellriegel‘s discovery.
McCosh also gives proper attention to the significance of
Boussingault’s major scientific work, his “Economie rurale” (first edition 1843/44) for the development of agricultural science. It thereby becomes clear that in this work,
which was translated into several languages, Boussingault
vigorously advocated the development of agricultural
chemistry, soil science, and the science of plant cultivation
into autonomous agricultural disciplines.
The reader is given an exhaustive survey of Boussingault’s many years of field studies in South America, his
experiments on animal nutrition, his research work on
photosynthesis, as well as his experiments in the field of
metallurgy. This testifies to the versatility of this chemist,
who in the brilliant period of French chemical theory did
not rank among the theorists; on the contrary, he was at all
times an advocate of applied chemistry.
The book’s sources are conscientiously documented; numerous illustrations are included, as well as a bibliography
of the scientific publications of Boussingault arranged by
field. Many readers will perhaps generously overlook the
infrequent misprints, which are noticeable above all in the
German biographical and bibliographical references.
On the whole, this biography is a sound contribution,
not only to the history of agricultural chemistry in the 19th
century, but also to the general history of chemistry and
science. It should not be absent from any private or public,
specialized library.
Wolfgang Bohm [NB 733 IE]
Institut fur Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzuchtung
der Universitat Gottingen (FRG)
Technology of Chemicals and Materials for Electronics.
Edited by E. R. Howells. Ellis Horwood Ltd., Chichester
1984. 333 pp., bound, 39.50.--ISBN 0-85312-771-9
This book, published under the auspices of the Society
of Chemical Industry (SCI), contains the papers presented
at a joint symposium held in January 1984 by the SCI and
the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE). The SCI has
already occasionally concerned itself in the past with interdisciplinary areas where chemistry meets physics, biology
or engineering. In the field discussed here the collaboration with the IEE has turned out to be particularly fruitful,
as the electronics industry’s need for chemicals and advanced materials is a topical theme, not only from a tech-
nical but also from an economic point of view. In Europe,
where this meeting was held, the electronics industry faces
a powerful challenge from the USA and the Far East, especially from Japan, but at the same time there is concentrated here a chemical industry which ranks as one of the
most potent in world markets. Changes affecting the range
of products supplied by the European chemical industry,
and competition from oil-producing countries, have increased the importance of new markets such as the electronics industry, even though it appears that the quantities
of materials needed annually are somewhat modest; these
are mostly high quality specialty products of a sophisticated kind, whose prices are determined in a similar way
to those of pharmaceutical products. Because materials for
the electronics industry must meet very high specifications,
a chemical industry that supplies them needs to have a
very good infrastructure, so as to satisfy purity criteria, for
Although many aspects of the raw material requirements
of the electronics industry have been discussed elsewhere,
there has hitherto been no comprehensive treatment of this
increasingly important field. The organizers of this symposium have provided here a clear and readable overview of
the future materials needs of the modern electronics industry which, while it is by no means exhaustive, is useful and
The first chapter looks at past trends and prospects for
the future, mainly from an economic point of view, but
also including readable accounts of some of the technical
opportunities. The titles of the topics covered are as follows: Twenty-five years of molecular electronics ( D . H.
Roberts, General Electric); Advances in microelectronics
via chemical and photoimaging innovations (A. B. Cohen,
Du Pont); The anatomy of a discovery-biphenyl liquid
crystals (C. Hilsum. General Electric); Electronic chemicals: a US view ( D . W. McCall. AT & T Bell Laboratories);
Future prospects of the Japanese electronics industry ( K .
Odagawa, Toshiba); New materials for electronics and
electro-optics: some speculations and a peek into the future ( R . E . Schwerzel, R . L. Holman, G . P. Noel, V. E.
Wood, Battelle Memorial Institute); Trends in materials
for modern electronic systems (C. van de Stolpe, Philips).
The second chapter is concerned with properties of materials, and consists of the following articles: The chemistry of polymer resists useful in microlithography ( A . Ledwith, Pilkington Bros.); Molecular electronics using Langmuir-Blodgett films (G. G. Roberts, University of Durham); The influence of the electronics industry on the development of soft magnetic materials ( R . V . Major, Telcon
Metals); Gallium arsenide integrated circuit technology
( R . C. Eden, GigaBit Logic); Growth technology of 111-IV
semiconductors for multilayer devices ( M . Razeghi, Thomson-CSF); Ingegrated circuit packaging and lithography
( A . N . Broers, IBM, New York); Materials cross-fertilization (G. D. Pitt, Standard Telecommunications Laboratories and University of Surrey); Electrochromic displays (D.
J. Barclay, D. H . Martin, IBM, UK); The materials needs
of optical communications ( M . J . Cardwell, R. C. Goodfellow, Plessey Research).
An account of a panel discussion and a contribution by
the editor give further insights in to the field, and some
additional statistical data are included to round off the
The appendix contains a list of the acronyms used, making the “computer Chinese” language a good deal more
comprehensible. The list of the participants’ addresses is a
mine of information for all those who may want to quesAngen. Cheni. In(. Ed. Engl. 25 (1986) No. 11
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