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Book Review FT-NIR Atlas. By M. Buback and H. P. Vgele

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said to “cast a deep shadow over his life
and work” (Stoltzenberg).
What purpose d o such comments serve,
and what d o they add to the discussion
concerning Fritz Haber, a discussion in
which we are still engaged 60 years after
his death? Fritz Haber was not simply a
highly respected chemist; he was also a
divided and torn human being whose
legacy to mankind includes both an ingenious procedure for synthesizing ammonia and the “Haber product,” W = c x t ,
intended for use as a standard in assessing
the lethal power of chemical weapons.
The study of Haber’s life and character
anticipates in an exemplary way the
broader debate over guilt and entanglement as it applies to scientists generally,
including the progenitors of the atomic
and hydrogen bombs: Otto Hahn, Robert
J. Oppenheimer, and Edward Teller.
Haber serves as an especially attractive
case-study for ideologues, because
through him they purport to be able to
construct the continuous and calamitous
sequence: Haber = criminal = chemical
industry = industry in general =capitalism = evil = antisocial.
Several biographies, including Stoltzenberg’s, make explicit reference to one particular saying attributed to Haber: “im
Frieden fur die Menschen, im Krieg fur
das Vaterland” (“in peacetime for
mankind, in war for the Fatherland”),
words that are no more but at the same
time no less valid or repulsive than the
British “Right or wrong: my country.”
Limitations that may also have been implicit in the sentiments so expressed once a topic of national debate that has
since turned global-no longer lend themselves to accurate reconstruction. but fairness demands that the remark at least be
viewed against the background of the
times. Haber was a converted Jew; at various stages in his life he was subjected to
all the misgivings Jewishiiess evoked in
Germany even during the reign of the
Kaisers. Like many others he attempted
to confront prejudice with extraordinary
personal deeds coupled with an ardent
display of “Germanness,” perhaps even
with a rash and precipitous form of patriotism. This problematic situation was a
matter of some discussion subsequent to
291 8 in connection with responsibility for
the Great War. Haber believed there had
been solid grounds for introducing poison
gas into the fighting. especially on the
German side. He never denied or repudiated this stance, and he accepted full responsibility for it. Stoltzenberg thoroughly explores this important facet of Haber’s
understanding of the very personal meaning of Germanness.
Stoltzenberg’s biography also conveys~--as far as possible 60 years after the
protagonist’s death--a sense of Haber’s
fate as that of an understanding, sensitive,
and at the same time tragic individual:
tragic in terms of his association with
weapons that have since been outlawed
and problems peculiar to the intersection
of science with politics; tragic also in the
personal sphere, with two unhappy marriages, the first of which ended in his
wife’s suicide, and the experience of being
hounded out of office just six months
short of retirement. Today we can only
speculate about the extent to which all of
this led to a guilt complex evolving gradually and through psychosomatic processes
into a state of autostress, which perhaps
culminated in his precarious state of
health and early death.
But why is there so much posthumous
hate, or at best such posthumous lack of
understanding? Ideologues and others
not given to reflection find it child’s play
to label Fritz Haber posthumously as a
criminal, because by present-day standards he did assume a tremendous burden
of personal guilt; besides, he is no longer
able to defend himself. The fact that he
was also a scientist---indeed. an outstanding scientist: a Nobel laureate- -makes
Haber a particularly valuable commodity
for ideologues; they can attack Fritz
Haber the personally vulnerable individual, and then transform him into a symbol
for science, industry, and capitalism generally. For champions of a simplistic point
of view the conclusion is perfectly
straightforward: anyone not opposed to
Haber and gas warfare and the synthesis
of ammonia must automatically be an enemy of socialism and peace-ergo, a vile
human being.
Another phenomenon that must also be
taken into account is the way Haber’s opponents present their retrospective interpretation of a life lived at another time,
with the subject of a biography used essentially as a vehicle for criticizing the history and conditions of another era. As
Stoltzenberg’s biography makes clear, it is
simply dishonest to ignore influences of
the times and the circumstances that prevailed, including in this case a restrictive
national perspective and the situation inevitably facing a baptized Jew. In short,
one cannot overlook the cumulative effect
of a host of political currents. cultural influences, questions related to an individual’s personal origins, historical consciousness, and the like. Moreover, Fritz Haber
cannot be regarded as representative simply because contrasts may be apparent between certain aspects of his behavior then
and what we might regard as permissible
today with our (superior!) wisdom and
understanding. This would be tantamount to denying the temporal qualities
associated with every human life, and critiquing every utterance from the past according to the standards of today. Doing
so requires that we abandon all sympathy
for the world of our parents and grandparents, and a lack of sympathy is equivalent to a lack of understanding. Stoltzenberg does demonstrate sympathy in his
writing, and with it a measure of anxiety,
and he transmits his feelings to the reader.
It is also important to reiterate that
Haber’s own contemporaries and colleagues viewed him with considerably
more understanding, and despite the difficult circumstances of the time the obituaries they prepared articulate far more noblesse than the words of many of today’s
What remains is the recognition that we
can only attempt to understand Fritz
Haber. We cannot relieve him of his
tragedy, nor of his entanglements with
guilt. He anticipated in encapsulated form
that which should characterize every scientist: the upright integrity of a researcher
who knows himself to be one with the
spirit and morals of his age and of his
contemporaries of all nationalities. A tendency to cast this premise in doubt, as
some now do, is one of those inexplicable,
irrational manifestations of the German
soul. That Haber was also the victim of
disdain and a political movement’s will to
exterminate physically those whom it dismissed o n ethnic grounds should actually
be regarded as an honor.
Haber also leaves us with a question,
one that needs to be addressed by every
scientist: precisely when does progress become transformed into a weapon, thus
triggering an obligation on the part of the
individual scientist to engage in emphatic
and articulate opposition? Progress cannot be prevented, but one can most assuredly insist that it not be misused.
Haber’s ultimate tragedy lies in the fact
that he failed to recognize this distinction.
Boy Cornils
Hoechst AG, Frankfurt/Main (Germany)
FT-NIR Atlas. By M . Buback and
H. P. Vogele. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim/VCH Publishers, New York, 1993. 1067 pp., hardcover DM 880.00, $570.00.--ISBN
With the increasing use of modern
Fourier transform (FT) infrared spectrometers, the N I R spectral region (4000-
10 000 cm ), which was previously
rather neglected, has become readily accessible and is of interest to many analytical laboratories. This FT-NIR Atlas is the
tirst volume in a series of “SpecBooks”
which are planned to cover all the most
important spectroscopic methods. It contains the first ever collection of digital
NIR spectra. Unlike the many conventional spectra atlases that have a long tradition based on “analog” spectra, the FTNIR A t l r s is a “hard copy” which has
been generated. largely automatically,
from a digital data bank to produce a collection of NIR spectra of 1957 compounds.
The arrangement of this spectra collection is similar to that in the Merck FT-IR
A r l r s . For each substance two spectra are
shown separately, covering the ranges
38OO-72OO c m - ’ (NIR I, on a scale
of about 250cm-’ per cm) and
630O-- 10500 c n - ’ (NIR 11. on a scale of
about 675 cni- per cm), which results in
a very clear presentation. Alongside each
spectrum arc listed up to seven of the
strongest peaks, which considerably simplifies making comparisons with experimentally observed spectra. Each compound is identified by its structural
formula. systematic name, and molecular
formula. The CAS Registry number,
manufacturer’s catalog number. and
physical properties such as molar mass,
density, melting point, etc. are also listed.
In cases where the compound was not
available in a suffkiently pure form for
recording a true spectrum, the exact composition of the mixture is given in an appendix. The selection of the 1957 compounds included is. of course. arbitrary;
however. as it is based on collecting together compounds from current catalogs
of chemicals this ensures that it includes
many of the compounds most commonly
found in laboratories.
The volume is very well produced, and
even tine details of the spectra are clearly
discernible. The introduction gives a short
and succinct account of the experimental
and theoretical background. Separate indexes according to molecular formula,
compound name. and CAS Registry number are provided. However, many users
will have difficulties in locating compounds b! name; for example, triphenylmethane is listed as “Benzene,
1.1’.1”-methylidynetris-”. Here it would
definitely have been sensible to also include common trivial names in the index.
A further criticism concerns the structural
formulas; these are shown without the hydrogen atoms. a convention which takes a
little getting used to.
Despite thc fact that this presentation
i n book form is in competition with the
electronic data bank, with all the latter’s
advantages, it will certainly find an established place in spectroscopic and analytical laboratories. Its advantages are that
the spectra are simply within arm’s reach.
without the bother of a flickering VDU
screen, and several spectra can be directly
compared. The only obstacle to its becoming widely available will be the present
impoverished state of many university
Wolfiam Sander
Organische Chemie IT
der Universitiit Bochum (Germany)
Activated Metals in Organic Synthesis. By P. Cintas. CRC Press, Boca
Raton, USA, 1993.236 pp., hardcover $ 59.95.-ISBN 0-8493-7863-X
This book describes in detail the applications of activated metals in organic and
organometallic chemistry. The first part
(Chapters 1-3) covers metal vaporization
methods, a number of other metal activation methods (such as the Rieke, metalanthracene, and ultrasonic methods), and
the use of metal-graphite compounds.
Each method is discussed in considerable
detail, clearly explaining its advantages
and disadvantages. The most important
reactions are collected together in equation form, and the experimental details of
the most useful activation methods are
described clearly and concisely (including.
for example, the preparation of Rieke
zinc, of iodine-activated magnesium, and
of activated nickel from nickel diisopropoxides).
The second part (Chapters 4-8) is concerned with the use of activated metals in
organic synthesis. Many examples are
given together with references to recent
work (150-200 literature citations per
chapter), providing an important and
valuable resource for the preparative organic chemist and for everyone who uses
metals in synthesis. Chapter 4 describes
the use of activated metals in reductions.
Chapter 5 then deals with reductive couplings of carbonyl compounds. giving a
very good review which ranges from the
classical pinacol coupling to the McMurry coupling. Additions to carbonyl conipounds are described in Chapter 6. treating the Barbier reaction (in which the
reactive organometallic species is generated in the presence of the electrophile) and
reactions of the Reformatsky type in separate sections. However, this classification
is not followed consistently, as the section
on the Barbier reaction also includes twostage organometallic reactions. The treat-
ment of the important reactions is very
good. with clearly set out equations to
give the reader a sound grasp of the principles. The discussion of the Reformatsky
reaction is especially detailed (including
the structures of the reagents, the role of
zinc activation, the extcnsion to other
metals, and the stereoselectivity of the reaction). Chapter 7 is devoted to cyclizations, in which activated metals offer an
important means of generating reactive
intermediates (e.g. Simmons- Smith reactions and metal-initiated free radical cyclizations). The final chapter describes
zinc-mediated ringopening reactions of
sugar derivatives and applications to the
stereoselective synthesis of chiral acyclic
polyhydroxy building blocks.
To summarize, the book gives a good
overview of synthetic applications of activated metals, which is an important area
of modern organic chemistry. It makes
easy reading, is very detailed, and is suitable for post-graduate and advanced
chemistry students, as well as for industrial chemists involved in research and development. It should be available in every
university library.
Piiul Knocliel
Fachbereich Chemie
der Universitat Marburg (Germany)
Cluster Chemistry. By G. GonzirlezMorega. Springer, Heidelberg, 1993.
302 pp., paperback DM 98.00.ISBN 3-540-56470-5
Cluster Cliemistr~ by G. GonzilezMorega was announced as “the first
(book) to be appropriate for disseminating and especially for teaching this contemporary topic.” Notwithstanding an
ever growing number of monographs covering various aspects of this field of science, there is indeed a need for a textbook
which can form the basis of an advanced
undergraduate or graduate course and,
most of all, lead the “novice” who is familiar with the basic principles on to the
more advanced topics.
The introductory section (Ch. 1 ) on
“Current Concepts in Modern Chemistry” is concerned with the fundamental
aspects of the theory of atomic structure
and chemical bonding as may be found in
most textbooks on general and/or inorganic chemistry. The following chapter on
“Transition Metal Cluster Chemistry” is
the first major section dealing with the
topic of the book. Beginning with a discussion on the classification of clusters
(naked/ligated, high valence/low valence)
and the principal types of ligands, a sur-
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