The following section provides a somewhat liturgical account of the organic acids normally detectable within the physiological fluids of healthy individuals. The authors emphasise the importance and usefulness of urine samples for detection of these acids. The final and longest section deals individually with the inherited organic acidurias after an initial discussion of the approaches to diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. This section is of particular interest to the biochemist wanting to broaden his knowledge of this area of clinical medicine and to the clinician hoping to increase his understanding of the biochemical basis of these acidurias. The section is easy to read, wellillustrated with explanatory pathways, and validates the authors’ claim to write a book of interest to both the specialist and the newcomer to the field. This book should be an essential reference book for the specialist and should be highly recommended to others with a general interest in biochemistry and clinical medicine. David A. York Education and Chemistry. By Patroescu and Ellis Hot-wood,
Teaching in Analytical G. E. Baiulescu, C. R. A. Chalmers. Pp. 190. Chichester. 1982. f 75.00.
This book is a curious blend of under- and postgraduate teaching philosophy-‘An outstanding teacher is a spark-plug, not a fuel line’-and critical survey of modern analytical techniques. The Introduction and Chapter 1 (Teaching and Education in Chemistry) cover the general approach to what the authors see as an effective teaching strategy; in particular they differentiate carefully between teaching and education. Chapter 2 (Teaching Analytical Chemistry) deals with sources of information in general and analytical chemistry, classical and instrumental procedures, and data processing. Chapter 3 (Education in Analytical Chemistry) is divided into Input (the sample, sampling, sample decomposition); Black-box (classical and instrumental compositional analysis, structural analysis); and Output (Quality of the Analyst-Capability, Correctness. Creativity; Quality of the Analytical Signal-Rapidity. Reproducibility. Rcliability). The authors have perforce been selective in choice of techniques for discussion and comparison, and indeed such material may readily be found in general texts on analytical chemistry, but the book contains numerous relevant and entertaining quotes and is obviously a distillation of the authors’ many years experience in teaching the subject. The book has been well edited in true Chalmers style and may be recommended to all concerned with the teaching of analytical chemistry. M. A. Leonard Guidebook to Organic Synthesis. By R. K. Mackie and 0. M. Smith. Pp. xiv + 338. Longman, London. 1982. Soft cover f9.95.
During the last two decades there has been a remarkable resurgence of interest in the
synthesis of complex organic molecules yet there are only three or four text-books dealing wholly with this subject. This latest book is intended as an introduction for undergraduates. The authors begin with chapters summarising functionalisation and interconversion of functional groups; formation of C-C bonds (principles, use of organometallic compounds and stabilised carbanions): formation of carbon-heteroatom bonds; then ring closure and ring opening. These are followed by chapters on reduction, oxidation, protective groups, boron, phosphorus, and silicon reagents, and finally some selected syntheses. The book is an excellent guide both to reactions which are of importance in synthesis and to the principles underlying the formation of various types of bonds. To save space,the authors have largely omitted reaction mechanisms but they give extensive cross-references to Peter Sykes’ well-known book on this subject. The actual approach to synthesis is briefly dealt with in terms of bond disconnections, synthons, and their synthetic equivalents. Unfortunately, there is no chapter on the principles of designing and planning long syntheses although some clues are given; e.g. pp. 24-26, 286, 324. Apart from this weakness about the strategy of synthesis the authors have fulfilled their intentions admirably and I recommend this book highly to students and their teachers. J. F. McOmie Enzyme Kinetics, 2nd Edition. By Paul C. Engel. Pp. 96. Chapman & Hall, London. 7987. Paperback f2.45.
The second edition of this useful little book is very similar to the first. Although many teachers of enzyme kinetics will prefer a more extended treatment, even for undergraduate students, there can be little doubt of the appeal to the students themselves of a book that aims to cover only the bare minimum, and that with as little algebra as possible. It is, moreover, astonishing how much information Dr Engel has managed to pack into his 96 pages-more, in some respects, than is in I. H. Segel’s book of 957 pages. The chapter on the method of King and Altman is an impressive example of how to convey the essence of an advanced method in only four pages. Dr Engel takes a more austere view of the term ‘MichaelisMenten equation’ than any other author I know of, considering that it refers exclusively to the case where substrate binds at equilibrium. Although this has a logical and historical appeal, I feel it may misleadingly suggest that adherence of kinetic data to an equation of Michaelis-Menten form demonstrates that substrate binding is at equilibrium; or perhaps it will just pass unnoticed by most readers. Arhel Cornbh-Bowden Readings in Developmental Neurobiology. Edited by Paul H. Patterson and Dale Purves. Pp. 700. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York. 1982. Paperback $38.50 US, $46.20 elsewhere.
I often have cause to complain that today’s students seem to have no sense of the history of their subject, so that they have difficulty in incorporating into a sound conceptual structure the facts they hear in lectures or read in the journals. Those of us who uneasily suspect that all this is our own fault try to direct our students to the seminal papers in our subject and our endeavours are certainly encouraged by the existence of collections of the type under review. The volume includes facsimile reproductions of 47 papers, four of which emanate from Great Britain and five from elsewhere in Europe. The rest are of transatlantic origin. The collection is divided into 13 sections, each devoted to a particular topic. Although most of the papers inevitably appeared no longer than three or four years ago, each of the sections has a brief but useful historical introduction and some of the papers themselves (notably that by Viktor Hamburger which features biographies of Ramon y Cajal and R. G. Harrison) incorporate introductions or more extensive sections of a historical nature. It is a pity that the subjects of the collection did not attract the attention of more of the earlier neurologists, for the reader will not encounter here any of the writings of such scientific and literary giants as Adrian, Eccles, Penfield, or Sherrington. Nor will he even be able to sample the writings of all those whose photographs adorn the cover of the book. Nevertheless the collection should not be ignored, especially by librarians. James Crossland Medicinal Chemistry Advances. Edited by F. G. De Las Heras and S. Vega. Pp. 512. Pergamon Press, Oxford. 1981. f33.00.
This book provides summaries of the lectures presented by speakers invited to the VIIth International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry held in Malaga, Spain, in September, 1980. After splendid overviews by A. Burger and F. P. Doyle of the recent history of, and the prospects for. drug research there are 36 papers on specialist topics. These concentrate on drug design, antiviral agents, modulators of the C.N.S., bio-active peptides and prostaglandins, but also include mention of antiantilipidemics, respiratory thrombotics, agents and others. Some of the authors provide useful broad reviews of their topics, others deal with very specific recent developments. However, overall, the book provides non-specialists with a useful basis for appreciating the approaches which are being employed, both in industry and in academic laboratories, for identifying new agents with potential for use in therapy. Specialists are likely to turn to other sources for recent information specific to their fields of research, but they will find much in this book that provides stimulating general reading on modern medicinal chemistry. C. H. Hassall