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Book Review Ion Exchangers. Edited by K. Dorfner

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Part 3, “Modification and Utilization”, discusses the
chemical basis for modifying the properties of wood and
cellulose so as to broaden their areas of use, both as constructional materials and as chemical raw materials. The
main areas considered are the chemical modification of
wood and cellulose, the plastification of wood, wood-polymer composites, and adhesives for wood. There is also a
chapter (unfortunately rather too brief) on the use of wood
and cellulose as sources of chemicals and energy.
Considered as a whole, the work offers a very good, up-todate, and in some parts detailed survey of the specialized
subject of wood and cellulose chemistry. The large number
of authors has resulted in some unavoidable overlapping. A
particularly useful feature is the large number of literature
references given at the end of each chapter; there is, however,
a very marked preponderance of Japanese publications. The
book can be recommended for everyone in research and
teaching who seeks an up-to-date account of the present
state of knowledge regarding the chemistry of renewable raw
materials, natural polymers, wood, and cellulose.
Otto Wienhaus
Institut fur Pflanzenchemie und Holzchemie
der Technischen Universitat Dresden
Abteilung Forstwirtschaft, Tharandt (FRG)
Vitamin C: Its Chemistry and Biochemistry. By M . B. Davies,
J. Austin, and D. A . Partridge. Royal Society of Chemistry,
Cambridge, 1991. 154 pp., paperback E 13.50. ISBN 085186-333-7
An up-to-date and compact treatise on various aspects of
ascorbic acid, this important vitamin, is most welcome, particularly in view of the discrepancy between the biological
importance and the limited amount of sound knowledge
available, and because of widespread interest on the part of
the general public and in the marketplace. The back cover
announces this book as just that: the “first” to provide an
in-depth, interdisciplinary study of this essential and fascinating compound.
Well, the reader gets only some of this: there is a nice and
coherent presentation of the history of scurvy and of the discovery of vitamin c , with due emphasis on Szent-Gyorgy
and on Haworth, with related stories providing good reading
(Chapters 2 and 3). Chapter 4 describes the synthesis and
manufacture, which, with a yearly output of more than 40000
tonnes, is certainly of quantitative interest. In this chapter
one already begins to wonder about the overall scheme of the
book, since at the end there is a lengthy section on further
chemical reactions that ascorbate can enter into, but without
offering a clue as to why this would be of interest.
Chapter 5 is on the biochemistry, and the bottom line is
that many actions are being discussed here and there, but
there is still much confusion. This is well illustrated by the
detailed description of some metabolic pathways, such as the
mitochondria1 respiratory chain, in lengthy sequences of reactions but only few, if any, clear statements of how ascorbate is chemically involved. AFR, presumably an abbreviation for the ascorbate free radical, is included but not really
explained. The few words about the interactions between
tocopherol and ascorbate do not reflect current knowledge
in this area. Similar comments apply to Chapter 6, on medical aspects: while generally satisfactory, the presentation
sometimes doesn’t quite make it to the point; I had trouble,
for example, trying to understand the passage on page 99 on
“vegetarians being in rude health, ascorbutically speak802
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Weinhrim,1992
ing”(?). The author of this part of the book may not have
been from the medical profession, judging from the way
some diseases were described. Chapter 7, on inorganic and
analytical aspects, was more within the field of expertise, but
here the inclusion of four pages on vitamin B,, in atomic
detail left the reader perplexed, because the connection to the
topic, namely vitamin C, was not made clear.
In summary, the book of about 15Opages is attractive
initially, but, as even the authors say, the field is still mysterious in several ways. The bibliography could have included
some of the more recent literature, e.g. the book for the
layman by Linus Pauling (“How to Live Longer and Feel
Better”), and the “Handbook of Vitamins” by Machlin. Also, one might disagree that the latest conference of the New
York Academy of Sciences on Vitamin C was a “Third
World Conference”.
Helmut Sies
Institut fur Physiologische Chemie
der Universitat Dusseldorf (FRG)
Ion Exchangers. Edited by K. Dorfner. de Gruyter, Berlin,
1991. XXXI, 1495 pp., hardcover DM 680.00.-ISBN 311-010341-9
A whole generation of chemists received their first initiation into the subject of ion exchangers from Dorfner’s slim
volume entitled “Ionenaustauscher”. A much weightier
book, “Ion Exchangers”, has now appeared. In this a team
of authors under Dorfner’s guidance has covered all the
most important aspects of ion exchangers in a single volume
of about 1500 pages.
An introduction to the basic principles of ion exchange is
followed by several contributions dealing comprehensively
with the synthesis of ion exchangers. Here it is pleasing to
note that due importance has been given to synthetic organic
ion exchange resins, the most commercially important group
of materials. All the important areas of industrial application are competently described by experts; these range from
conventional water treatment processes to the applications
of ion exchangers and polymeric adsorbers in biotechnology.
The contribution by Sherrington on the influence of the
structure of the polymer on the reactivities of the functional
groups is especially worth reading, despite being relegated to
an inconspicuous position in the last part of the book. Also
there is a short but highly informative section which surveys
the literature on ion exchangers in general, and describes the
use of computer-based information retrieval methods. All
the contributions include many references to original papers.
There is an appendix containing an index of commercially
available ion exchangers, and the book is completed by a
useful subject index.
Published work up to the mid-eighties is covered in considerable detail, but later results have only rarely been included.
The editor has been remarkably successful in avoiding overlapping of subject matter; where this has been allowed to
occur, it makes it much easier to read a particular article
without needing to know the contents of the previous one.
There is a certain amount of inconsistency in the nomenclature and units, but it could not have been avoided, and this
reviewer did not find it troublesome. The print is clear and
legible, and the tables, formulas, figures, and flow diagrams
are mainly clear and informative.
However, the frequent careless errors are a nuisance, of
which the following are two examples. In the tables on
pages 96 and 1297, which are largely identical in content, we
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find on the one hand - N l R and Ba’, and on the other hand
-NH2 and -SO:. In the lower equation on page 1008 none
of the three structural formulas is shown correctly. One
could go on at some length listing the mistakes, and unfortunately they often distract the reader’s attention from the
discussion. A second edition of the book would benefit
greatly from more attention being given to such details.
Who ought to buy this book? The high price will certainly
deter individuals from buying it privately. However, the new
“Dorfner” should be available in all libraries where there is
a need for an expert overview of the many different aspects
of ion exchangers.
Werner Striiver
Bayer AG
Leverkusen (FRG)
The Kaiser’s Chemists. Science and Modernization in Imperial
Germany. By J. A . Johnson. University of North Carolina
Press, Chapel Hill (USA), 1990. X, 279pp., hardcover
$ 39.95.-ISBN 0-8078-1902-6
Under the attractive title “The Kaiser’s Chemists”, J. A.
Johnson here presents a study in scientific history, with particular emphasis on the difficult period of evolution in the
politics and organization of science that led up to the founding of the three Kaiser-Wilhelm Institutes (for chemistry, for
physical chemistry and electrochemistry, both at BerlinDahlem. and for coal research at Miilheim). Based on very
thorough studies of original source material, the author provides detailed insights into the events before and during the
formation and building of these institutes for basic chemical
research, and into the relevant social history. The outstanding role of Emil Fischer comes repeatedly to the fore. The
triumvirate of Emil Fischer, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Walter
Nernst initiated the first moves towards setting up an imperial institute for chemistry, in analogy to the institute for
physics and technology, but this objective then changed due
to the influences of many different social forces and needs,
with the result that the three institutes named above were
already set up even before World War I. Leading German
chemists in universities, technical colleges, and the chemical
industry were concerned that the dominant world position of
German chemistry, both in research and in industry, should
be maintained and reinforced by setting up new institutes of
this kind. The most important aim was to push forward
developments in analytical, inorganic and physical chemistry, and in biochemistry. As neither the Prussian state nor
the Reich were prepared to bear much of the cost that would
be incurred in setting up these institutes, it was necessary to
find sponsors with the required capital resources from within
the economy. How the proponents went about this task, the
many different interests that were brought together from
different sides to support these projects, the role played by
the Prusso-German bureaucracy and by Kaiser Wilhelm I1
through the “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Forderung
der Wissenschaften”-all this is described in detail, put into
context, and carefully analyzed by Johnson. The institutional innovation process in German science is considered within
the context of the “conservative modernization” that was
taking place at that time, with the aim of increasing the
might of the Kaiser’s Germany. With the start of the First
World War, chemical research and technology became closely bound up with military interests. This cooperation focussed on the objectives of developing raw materials resources, and producing substitute materials and chemicals
A n g e w Chem. In(. Ed. Engl. 31 (1992) No. 6
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for use in war (Fritz Haber). Chemists in universities, technical colleges, the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institutes, and the chemical
industry contributed much to prolonging the war that could
not be won. In an epilogue the author traces the subsequent
fate of some of these chemists in the post-war period. The
balance-sheet is dreadful: Emil Fischer’s suicide in 1919;
Fritz Haber and Richard Willstatter went into exile in 1934
and 1939 respectively; Walther Nernst retired from scientific
work in 1933 as a protest against Nazism. The tragedies of
German history in the first half of this century are reflected
in the personal stories of many of these chemists.
In summary, there is no doubt that in this book the American science historian Johnson has made a valuable and profound contribution to understanding the history of German
science in the first two decades of this century.
Aljired Neubauer
Berlin (FRG)
Biocoordination Chemistry: Coordination Equilibria in Biologically Active Systems. (Inorganic Chemistry Series; Series Editor: J. Burgess). Edited by K . Burger. Ellis Horwood, Chichester, 1990. ix, 349 pp., hardcover $90.00.ISBN 0-13-179912-6.
This multiauthored text deals with the coordination chemistry of kinetically labile complexes of biological interest,
amino acids, peptides, carbohydrates, nucleic acid bases, nucleosides, and nucleoside monophosphates. Such molecules
are potential ligands, and a knowledge of their interactions
with metal ions is crucial to studies of the role of metal ions
and metal complexes in biology.
The first chapter (Noszal) deals with the acid-base properties of bioligands and, in conjunction with Burger’s introduction, provides a good general background to the topic. The
broad area of complexes of amino acids is discussed by Kiss
in an admirable manner, and the chapter will be very useful
to anyone wishing to learn about the solution chemistry of
complexes of these ligands. Metal complexes of peptides and
their derivatives are covered by Sovago in a good discussion
of the field.
The chapter on thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of
metalloenzymes and metalloproteins (Hirose and Kidani)
deals with carbonic anhydrase, carboxypeptidase, Cu-Znsuperoxide dismutase, human transferrin, and ovatransferrin. This chapter seems a little out of place in this volume but
provides interesting reading.
It is pleasant to see a chapter on metal complexes of carbohydrates (Burger and Nagy). This has been a somewhat neglected area, and a comprehensive review of carbohydrate
complexes has not previously been available, although various aspects of the topic have been covered. Sawyer’s 1964
review (Chem. Rev., 64, 633) lists 140 references, and the
present discussion covers the literature to 1990. The article
should help to stimulate further interest in the area.
The final chapter (Lonnberg) deals with proton and metal
ion interactions with nucleic acid bases, nucleosides and nucleoside monophosphates. Owing to the vital role of nucleic
acids in molecular biology this has become one of the most
extensively studied areas of bioinorganic chemistry. For
someone seeking an introduction to the area this chapter will
be very useful.
The book is well produced with clear diagrams and tables.
The literature citations are somewhat eccentric, and I see no
very clear reason for the adoption of, for example, “70 CI”,
standing for Clelland’s publication in 1970. The book sum-
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803
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