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Book Review Organic Photochemistry. A Comprehensive Treatment. (Physical Chemistry Series.) By W. Horspool and D. Armesto

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lives up to the title and the claims made in the preface. It
would certainly have been possible to produce a book with
a different balance of emphasis. For example, there are
scarcely any references to electrochemical reactions, despite
the fact that in many cases these are good model systems for
coupled and biologically relevant electron and proton transfer processes. However, any choice of topics for such a book
is inevitably subjective, and reflects the interests of the conference participants and organizers. A more serious criticism
in my view is that insufficient attention has been given to
linking together the individual contributions. The preface
emphasizes the interdisciplinary approach (“...biology has
become the ground where the various disciplines of sci. meeting again”; “students of the life sciences will
ence __are
always rely on ... investigations of simpler and cleaner systems that are the object of pure physics and chemistry”), and
that is exactly why it would have been desirable to have
sections in the text to link and interrelate the disciplines, so
as to overcome the barriers that exist, often even in the
terminology. Also only a few of the articles are in the nature
of reviews, and some report results on the authors’ special
research topics. Consequently the book is not very suitable
as an introduction to the field, but is rather in the nature of
a snapshot of current research activity.
On careful reading of some individual articles one is struck
by the large number of errors, leading one to ask whether the
manuscripts were checked before typesetting. For example,
pages 95- 109 contain 22 cases of incomplete sentences, incorrect symbols, errors of sign in equations (!), and spelling
errors. To cite only the most glaring example found, what is
one supposed to make of “dimethyltetraaza (ref. 14) annulene” (p. 338)? Presumably what is meant is dimethyltetraaza[ 14lannulene (although strictly speaking it refers to the
dibenzo derivative of this compound). One might reasonably
expect that, for a book costing over $200, errors of this kind
would not occur so frequently as is found here. The same
applies to the lack of consistency in book and journal citations. In some of the articles the style is too much like a
transcript of a lecture. Occasionally the English would have
benefited from a little polishing by the editors, as there are
whole sentences whose meaning can only be deciphered with
For readers who are engaged in research in the fields described and want to look beyond the confines of their own
specialism, this book should be worth buying, provided that
they are prepared to overlook the minor shortcomings of
presentation mentioned above. They will discover from it
some surprising parallels between chemistry and biology in
the area of electron and proton transfer.
Bernd Speiser
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Universitat Tubingen (FRG)
Organic Photochemistry. A Comprehensive Treatment. (Physical Chemistry Series.) By W Horspool and D. Armesto.
Ellis Horwood/Prentice Hall, New York, 1992. XVI,
521 pp., hardcover $90.00.-ISBN 0-1 3-639477-9
As editor of the book Synthetic Organic Phoiochemistry
(1984) and as the author of the annual reviews of the photochemistry of carbonyl compounds In the Royal Chemical
Society’s Specialist Periodical Reports on Photochemistry, W.
Horspool is certainly widely recognized as a leading expert
on light-induced reactions of organic molecules. It was therefore almost a foregone conclusion that a new book o n organic photochemistry should have him as one of its authors.
An@’&‘. Clwm. Inr. Ed. Engl. 1993. 32, N o . 8
The book consists of seven chapters as follows: a brief
general introduction to molecules in electronically excited
states; the photochemical behavior of hydrocarbons; photochemical reactions of molecules containing oxygen, sulfur,
nitrogen, and halogens; and lastly a survey of the main experimental requirements for carrying out photochemical reactions. The authors have undoubtedly succeeded in putting
together a very comprehensive summary of the armory of
light-induced reactions of organic molecules that can be used
for synthetic purposes. The book can therefore be recommended for all readers seeking a good general overview of
this subject. As seems to be generally unavoidable, there are
a few printing errors, such as the repetition of a whole sentence (p. 234) or of a literature citation (p. 345), and also
quite a number of errors in authors’ names in the references.
German-speaking readers will notice that the literature survey in the introduction fails to mention the photochemistry
volume (IV 5a, b) of “Houben-Weyl”.
Although the publishers describe the book as a “timely
review” it is, unfortunately, not really so in the sense of being
up-to-date. Except for the chapter on organonitrogen compounds, which has been partly updated by including the
authors’ most recent work on aza-di-n-methane rearrangements (with five literature references for 1990 onwards), the
most recent publications are not adequately covered. It is
certainly possible to cover the latest work in books of this
kind, as J. Kopecky has clearly demonstrated in his book
Organic Photochemistry (VCH, 1992). Leaving aside the fact
that these two books treat the subject differently, and the
significant difference in price between the two, this matter of
up-to-dateness is by itself a sufficient reason for me to recommend that students wishing to learn about this field
should preferably buy Kopecky’s book.
Paul Margaretha
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Universitat Hamburg (FRG)
Organic Synthesis in Japan. Past, Present, and Future. In
Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Society of
Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan. Edited by R. Noyori.
Tokyo Kagaku Dozin, Tokyo, 1992. XI, 565 pp., hardcover Y 14000.-ISBN 4-8079-0369-1
The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry in Japan was
founded in 1942. At that time chemists in Europe could
already look back on more than fifty years of achievement in
this field, both in the laboratory and on an industrial scale,
and also on some impressive successes in natural products
chemistry, especially in structure determination. The aim of
the newly formed society was to foster close collaboration
between universities and industry, and to stimulate and encourage research in organic synthesis. As R. Noyori points
out in the preface, chemists in Japan have a different scientific and cultural background from their counterparts in other
countries, which influences motivation, the approach to
solving problems, and the way that research projects are
carried out in practice. These special circumstances and
Japan’s geographical position have contributed to the fact
that initially the development of chemistry there was not so
rapid as that occurring in Europe and the USA during the
same period. Even today, although the successes of Japanese
chemical research compare well with those in other leading
industrial countries, certain characteristics that we generally
associate with the “Japanese mentality” are discernible. To
mark the fiftieth anniversary of its formation the Japanese
Verlagsgesellschuft mbH, 0-69451 Weinheim. 1993
0570-0833/93/0808-I2I9$10.00+ .25/0
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physical, chemistry, photochemistry, treatment, comprehension, book, series, armesto, organiz, horspool, review
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