The Investigation of Organic Reactions and their Mechanisms

The Investigation of Organic Reactions and their Mechanisms

edited by Howard Maskill

Blackwell Publishing, Ltd., 2006

ISBN 1-4051-3142-X

reviewed by Markus Etzkorn

This is an impressive “guidebook” that bridges specialized monographs and more descriptive surveys on this fundamentally important topic. The foreword by Claude F. Bernasconi and the editor’s preface discuss the aim of the subsequent 12 chapters, written by a group of 15 European experts, and place this book within the broader context of physical organic chemistry.

After the editor’s brief outline in chapter 1, the next five sections develop, explain, and explore investigation techniques for studying and mechanistically interpreting reaction kinetics. The following three contributions cover diverse methodologies such as electrochemical, computational, and calorimetric techniques. The book concludes with two chapters on reaction intermediates and two chapters describing catalytic processes. A detailed 17-page index helps with navigating through this beautiful investigation of organic reaction mechanisms.

With a generally high scientific quality, each chapter can stand on its own and provides the necessary background to enjoy the numerous case studies that demonstrate the strength, and occasionally the weakness, of the discussed method. Each article closes with a reference list. Five chapters provide an additional bibliography as well, and the electrochemical chapter offers an appendix with some experimental advice. Throughout the entire book the quality of pictures, schemes, and equations is high, thus enhancing the reading pleasure. Overall, a clear presentation facilitates an easy browsing through the monograph.

In conclusion I highly recommend this book to every practicing researcher in industry or academe who needs a broad and thorough understanding of organic reaction mechanisms. Furthermore, this treatise gives an exciting and contemporary snapshot of the topic to any chemist with an interest in physical organic chemistry, ultimately reminding us that a mechanism is our current best interpretation of experimental data in terms of describing a chemical transformation.

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