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Book Review Die Mutterkorn-Alkaloide (Ergot Alkaloids). By A. Hofmann. Sammlung chemischer und chemisch-technischer Beitrage. Edited by R. Pummerer L. Birkofer and J

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Alchemy is interpreted by Paracelsus to mean the preparation
of pure substances for medicinal purposes: “Alchemia est
impuri separatio a substantia puriori” (alchemy is the separation of impure from pure substance) on p. 26 or “est itaque
ars chymica, ars physica separandi purum a b impuro ad conficiendum medicamenta tam corporibus humanis persanandis,
quam metallicis ad summam perfectionem perducendis, accomodata” (the chemical art is a physical art adapted to
separating the pure from the impure for making medicines,
for curing human bodies, and for converting metals to the
height of perfection) on p. 149.
A thorough knowledge of Latin is essential in order t o understand the “Lexicon” even though explanations in German are
frequently interspersed. However, anyone wanting to peruse
original texts dating from the Middle Ages will have the
necessary command of Latin and will be able to use this reprint with profit, for it often contains references to other classiw. Ruske [NB 322/180 IEI
cal authors of its day and age.
Einfiihrung in das anorganisch-chemkche Praktikum (einschliefilich der quantitativen Analyse) [Introduction to
Practical Inorganic Chemistry, Including Quantitative
Analysis]. By J. H . Jander and E. Blasius. S. Hirzel Verlag, Stuttgart 1964. 6th completely revised edit., XX -F 483
pp.. 97 figs., 4 tables. plastic covers D M 19.80 (about
$ 5.-).
With this new edition of their book, the authors have succeeded in compiling a modern textbook which, like the
previous editions, will certainIy find resonance among
The theoretical chapters have been brought up to date, but it
would have been pleasing if the concept of orbitals had been
introduced and if the covalent bond had been dealt with more
thoroughly in the section o n “Ionic Theory and Bonding
The preparative and analytical sections of the book are based
on reliable practical procedures and characterization tests.
The separation schemes for qualitative analysis are flawless
and accurate, as the reviewer can confirm from his own
experience. However, it is questionable whether the numerous
organic reagents mentioned, e.g. magneson, sodium rhodizonate, morin, etc., will be of much help to the student with
chemistry as a minor subject, for the proper use of these
substances generally demands some experience.
The quantitative section gives an excellent survey of the
usual methods, including very modern methods, which are
well illustrated by detailed descriptions of individual determinations. O n the whole, the book can be highty recommended to both students and tutors alike.
0. Glemser
[NB 3531211 IE]
Die Mutterkorn-Alkaloide (Ergot Alkaloids). By A . Hofmann.
Sammlung chemischer und chemisch-technischer Beitrage.
Edited by R. Pummerer, L. Birkofer, and J. Goubeau. New
Series, No. 60. Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart 1964.
1st Edit., VII + 218 pp., 27 illustrations, 50 tables, linen,
D M 64.- (about $16.00).
The ergot alkaloids have undergone a dramatic history, first
as the cause of devastating mass intoxications, then as valuable
medicines, and finally as the subject of intense chemical investigations. Important advances within recent years, such as
the total synthesis of the main ergot alkaloids by the author
and his school and the succesful study of the biogenesis of
lysergic acid, make the present volume particularly interesting.
The book has four sections, that dealing with the chemistry
of the ergot alkaloids being the longest (1 59pp.). Descriptions
are given of the properties and isolation of all the alkaloids of
the lysergic acid and clavine types, including the identifications of their structures, their syntheses, analyses, biogeneses,
and conversion into derivatives with different biological activities. The treatment given to the stereochemistry of lysergic
acid and its derivatives is comprehensive and supplemented
with explicatory formulae and therefore deserves special
praise. In this connection, it is almost regrettable to think that
these outstanding configurational studies were brought t o a
successful conclusion before there was a chance to apply the
methods of N M R and mass spectrometry. Another notable
feature of the book is the presentation given to the syntheses
in the ergotamine group.
The other three chapters are much shorter and deal respectively with the botany (7 pp.) and history (6 pp.) of ergot and
with the pharmacology and therapeutic applications of ergot
alkaloids (22 pp.). The description of the psychotropic activity of lysergic acid derivatives and its discovery by the author
in self-experiments will be read with excitement even by the
The literature has been sifted up to the beginning of 1963.
In addition, the book contains many more recent research
results from the author’s own laboratory. Regrettably, the
book has no subject index, and a price of 7 cents per page.
However, the condensed and lucid style and the complete
coverage make it a n extremely stimuIating summary of this
interesting field of natural products for chemists, botanists,
and pharmacologists alike.
B. Franck
[NB 331/189 IE]
Taschenbuch fur Chemiker und Physiker (D’Ans-Lax), Vol. 11:
Organische Verbindungen (Handbook for Chemists and
Physicists, Vol. 11: Organic Compounds). Edited by Ellen
Lax in collaboration with Claudia Synowietz, SpringerVerlag, Berlin-Gottingen-Heidelberg 1964. 3rd completely
revised edition, VIII + 1177 pp., linen DM 48.- (about
$ 12.00).
“D’Ans-Lax” is due to appear in a new, completely revised
edition. The reorganization of the book is noticeable already
from its external appearance, for it has been divided up into
three volumes. Volume 11, “Organic Compounds”, has just
been published.
A feature that will be extremely valuable to many users of the
book is the poignant introduction to the nomenclature of
organic compounds written by K . Dimroth. Here the most
important IUPAC rules for naming organic compounds are
recorded in a version that is easy t o read and to grasp;
however, these are often mixed with older nomenclature
habits, so that the list of methods for naming materials sornetimes lacks in perspicuity. A table of the most important
ring systems and their numbering is also included.
This introductory section is followed by a list almost 900
pages Iong - designated as Tabie I2 - of about 7000 organic
compounds; for each substance; the name and a literature
reference, the formula, molecular weight, melting or boiling
point, and characteristic properties such as the state of
aggregation, solubilities, odor, color, etc. are given. This
table has always formed the core of the “DAns-Lax” for
many chemists.
It is therefore regrettable that the nomenclature in this table
is not uniform throughout. For example, the compound
is recorded under “Acetol” but
under “Benzolcarbinol”. 4-Methyl-2phenylpyrimidon-(6) is described as such, but its isomer 4methyI-6-phenyipyrimidon-(2) is to be found - without any
indication of the systematic name - under “Benzoylacetonharnstoff”! In the reviewer’s opinion, the depiction of the
formulae with dots instead of hyphens for bonds is unfortunate, because this notation is not as easy and rapid to
The long list of compounds is followed by supplementary
tables in which the campounds are arranged according to
increasing melting and boiling points and according to their
composition. A section with therrnochemical data is also
It is hardly necessary to give “D’Ans-Lax” a good recommendation. This handbook is a standard work and the
second volume of the new edition corresponds to this classification. The contents of the other volumes can be looked forward to.
H . Grunewatd
[NB 315/173 1El
Airgew. Chem. internat. Edit. 1 Vol. 4(1965)
1 No. 7
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