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Book Review Comprehensive Biochemistry Vol. 32 A History of Biochemistry. Part IV. Edited by M. Florkin And E. H

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health hazards of pathogenic microorganisms in water, testing
water, effluent treatment, disinfection and the water cycle,
eutrophication, thermal pollution, the sulfur cycle and waste
recycling, oil pollution and biological degradation, the formation of organic mercury and arsenic compounds, reasons for
the occurrence of nitrates, nitrites, and hydroxylamine in water,
and the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines and of aflatoxins.
While emuent treatment is described in detail, biodegradation receives too little space-a mere twenty pages for the
degradation of aromatics, heterocyclics, alicyclics, synthetic
detergents, and pesticides. The literature is basically confined
to English and American sources. The book can be recommended as an introduction.
F. Lingens [NB 422 IE]
ComprehensiveBiochemistry, Vol. 32: A History of Biochemistry. Part IV. Edited by M . Florkin and E. H . Stotz. Elsevier/North Holland Biomedical Press, Amsterdam, 1977.
1st edit., xx, 362 pp., 57 figs., bound, Dfl. 98.00.
This is the fourth part of the History of Biochemistry,
a separate section of the Comprehensive Biochemistry series,
and certainly the one least subject to change. With his historical
sense that also characterizes his research in the field of biochemical evolution, dealing with the problems of cause and effect,
M . Florkin knows very well how to present the parallel development of the concepts of chemistry and biochemistry-the
mutual interdependence of nature and person, reality and
perception. We saw in Part III[*] that ideas of nutrition had
always been bound up with the concept of composition and
decomposition, how the parts of the cell components are
linked by basic chemical processes, the necessary energy being
ensured by redox or group potentials via a common donor.
This sets the scene, based on assimilation, dissimilation, and
energetics, on which the processes of biosynthesis take place.
Since the middle of the 18th century these have been developed
in step with the advances of experimental and theoretical
chemistry. The present volume deals with the early stages
of present-day knowledge of the biogenesis of cell components
and is illustrated by interesting portraits of many of the protagonists. The story begins with the application of mass and
energy balances to living organisms and with the discovery
of the assimilation of carbon dioxide by green plants. It ends
with the introduction of isotope methods around the middle
of the century, which made it possible to put the mechanisms
of biosynthesis on a stronger foundation. It is exciting to
find the intellectual sources and to learn about the philosophy
and changing attitudes of biochemists, which enables us to
understand and assess the various contributions in their proper
historical context. The network of fruitful contacts during the
period of elitist preoccupation with research problems (which
seemed irrelevant to the wider public) and the personal contacts surviving the political tensions in the 18th and early 19th
centuries-but also the emotional and national movements
which influenced scientific thinking and which came in the
next hundred years-give an instructive picture and shift the
role and the inclination of many an outstanding research
worker into a fitting and just perspective. At this time
the possibility of reversing catabolic and anabolic processes
was postulated as a result of mass action, and scientists
discovered the fundamental biogenesis of urea and uric acid,
“detoxication” processes as cellular activities, the P-oxidation
of fatty acids, and the inability of the body to form certain
amino acids. These observations, to which a great number
[‘I
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 14, 719 (1975); cf. also 1 7 , 699 (1975)
Angew. Chem. I n t .
E d . Engl. 17 (1978) N o . 11
of life scientists in many countries have made important contributions, fill the book with exciting material. The account
is written in an elegant style and with warmth, and gives
a stirring panorama, which makes us await the last volume
with great interest. With its facts, interpretations, references,
and portraits, this book is-and will no doubt long remain-a
rich source for all who are interested in the history and philosophy of natural sciences.
L. Juenicke [NB 429 IE]
Immunologie (Immunology). By G. Bundschuh and B. Schneeweiss. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart-New York 1976.
1st edit., xxxiv, 451 pp., linen, D M 42.00.
More than 2000 keywords from the field of immunology are arranged alphabetically in this book and
explained briefly, in some cases with references to the original
literature. It is certainly not possible to say that the fundamental principles of the immune system could be reconstructed
from this collection. For this purpose the book is too concerned
with human and clinical immunology, the quality of the individual sections is too varied, and the reported state of knowledge
is a couple of years out of date (in this connection it may
be mentioned that under the keyword “network theory” one
finds a description of the mechanism of the serological precipitin reaction but not that of a general regulation principle
based on receptor interactions). Many fundamental aspects
of the immune system d o not come over clearly, for example
the recognition that regulation of the immune apparatus is
based to a large extent on cell interactions: one looks in
vain for keywords such as “cell interaction”, “cooperation”,
and the like. On the other hand, the book contains a wealth
of information that for a non-specialist is often difficult to
find (even within the area of immunology). Working myself in
“fundamental” immunology, I was particularly struck by
the fact there were often very informative sections on matters
important in clinical immunology. Summarizing, this is a
book in which much can be looked u p but in which much
is presented incompletely or omitted. A useful supplementary
book.
K . Rujewsky
[NB 435 IE]
Surfactants and Interfacial Phenomena. By M . J . Rosen. John
Wiley & Sons, London 1978. xiv, 304 pp., bound, E 15.90.ISBN 0-471-73600-7
Quantitative Drug Design. A Critical Introduction, Vol. 8. By
Y. C. Martin. Marcel Dekker, New York 1978. x, 425 pp.,
bound, SFrs. 105.00.--ISBN 0-8247-6574-5.-A volume in
the series “Medicinal Research Series”
Ozonation in Organic Chemistry, Vol. 1: Olefiiic Compounds.
By Ph. S. Bailey. Academic Press, New York 1978. xiv,
272 pp., bound, fi 28.50.-ISBN 0-12-073101-0
873
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