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Book Review Vitamin C Its Chemistry and Biochemistry. By M. B. Davies J. Austin and D. A

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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
0 VCH Verlagsgesellschrfi mbH, W-6940
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
0570-0833/Y2/0606-0802$3.50+ .2Sl0
Angew. Chem. I n t . Ed. Engl. 31 (1992) No. 6
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