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Book Review Stereoselective Synthesis. 2nd Edition. By M. Ngrdi

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goal to develop theoretical methods that
permit one to predict physical and chemical properties with such precision that a
real experiment leading to the same result
becomes unnecessary?
DiTrocchio raises questions of this type
in the last chapter of his book, entitled
The Scientist as Deceiver, where he explicitly dismisses any interest in small-time
fraud or simple falsification. In this intellectually stimulating discourse the author
promotes the thesis that all scientists, but
especially those not engaged in normal
science according to Kuhn’s use of
the term, must engage in deception. In
DiTrocchio’s own words: “[Ever since
Popper we know] that it is possible to
provide proof only for that which is false,
whereas one can never prove absolutely
that something is true. This means that all
the scientific theories we hold to be true
cannot be regarded as true because their
truth has actually been proven, but only
because the scientists who formulated
them succeeded in making such truth
plausible to their colleagues and to us.
This ordinarily includes the use of more o r
less serious falsifications or tricks, albeit
ones that are not apparent, or only become apparent after a long period of time.
In the end, scientists thus perpetrate fraud
in the name of truth, because they are in
no position to prove truth itself.” In this
particular quote I find the words falsification, tricks, and fraud somewhat disturbing. Scientists are in fact very much
aware of the limits of their abilities. They
know they are dealing with images, analogies, and metaphors (DiTrocchio speaks
of science as a great illusion), which they
formulate as accurately as possible within
the confines of the knowledge available,
their own personal creativity, and their
imagination. The claim is never made (at
least not any more) that one is presenting
a comprehensive exposition of truth.
Science remains an open endeavor and
thus occasionally open to fraud and deceit, at least as defined in a court of law,
but open also to the sort of high-level
manoevering noted above, which one
might better describe as un-deceiving in
the sense of destroying a n illusion. Otherwise the public is too likely to gain the
impression that even science amounts to
nothing but a big swindle. This may be
precisely the message many of our contemporaries wish to hear, but it is not the
case, nor is it the message the author
wished to convey-or is he attempting to
deceive us?
Henning Hopf
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Technischen Universitat Braunschweig (Germany)
Stereoselective Synthesis. 2nd Edition. By M . Nbguridi. V C H Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim/VCH Publishers, New York, 1994. 368 pp.,
DM 68.00, $45.00.ISBN 3-527-29243-8/1-56081-89.5-6
Like its first edition published in 1986,
this enlarged and revised second edition of
Stereoselective Synthesis has two purposes. Firstly it is intended for chemists involved in the synthesis of enantiomerically pure chiral natural products
and active agents.
Secondly it aims to
provide advanced
students and postgraduates with a
clearly understandable account of basic principles and
progress in the ever growing field of asymmetric synthesis.
N6gradi’s book describes the impressive developments that have occurred in
stereoselective synthesis during the past
20 years. The earlier chapters contain a
detailed account of the theoretical basis of
methods for regio- and stereoselective
synthesis. Recent discoveries and theories,
such as the isoinversion principle, have
been included in this new edition. The aspects treated in the following chapters include classical variants of methods for
stereoselective functionalization, for example using chiral auxiliaries. The types
of reactions discussed include such varied
examples as stereoselective non-catalytic
reductions, oxidations, nucleophilic additions, electrophilic additions, cycloaddi-
j VCH I/ilrlugsgesel/schuff mhH, 0-69451 Wrinheim, 1995
tions, and pericyclic reactions. The most
recent published work (up to December
1992), such as the development of chiral
reagents and innovations in the use of chiral auxiliaries, e.g. for 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions, is only partly covered in this
new edition. Advances and new applications in the area of enantioselective catalysis are covered in greater detail. The
trend away from stoichiometric methods
to catalytic methods is impressively described, with examples from the areas of
catalytic hydrogenations, epoxidations,
and the cis-hydroxylation of olefins. The
wide-ranging uses of chiral ligands and
chiral Lewis acids are also discussed, as
applied, for example, to enantioselective
additions (the increasing success of
organozinc reagents, and the catalysis of
aldol reactions and ene reactions by chiral
boron or aluminum Lewis acids). The
reader wishing to study topics in greater
depth has access in this edition to more
than 1800 literature references, of which
831 are more recent (although these extend only up to December 1992!).
The choice of topics covered sometimes
seems a little arbitrary and turns out to be
incomplete, and the results reported are
heavily concentrated on the best known
research groups. Consequently the advanced reader who wants to avoid missing
important recent developments will often
need to refer to the original papers and
follow up other references that these bring
to light. However, since there have been
so many new developments in asymmetric
synthesis it is understandable that the author has not been able to include all the
new work of the last few years.
To summarize, the appearance of a new
edition of this book is welljustified in view
of the immense amount of published work
and new developments in asymmetric synthesis in recent years, and this edition continues to give a good overall insight into
this highly topical field of organic synthesis. The availability of a paperback version now means that students can afford
to buy it, and it undoubtedly offers them
welcome additional reading to accompany lecture courses on the subject.
Kurola Ruck
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Universitat Mainz (Germany)
1)570-0833/95/1212-1372$10.00+ ,2510
Ang‘n. CAem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1995. 34, N o . 1 2
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