A Superb book!, October 13, 2002
This is a superb book to understand the excitement in biochemistry and to understand its relevance to human health. Stryer’s book presents biochemistry in a completely different manner. Instead of traditionally presenting one topic after the other, it presents each chapter giving a representative molecule or system for explanation and characterization of the material in that chapter . For example, heamoglobin and myoglobin for explaining the three dimensional structure of proteins, lysozyme and chymotrypsin for explaining enzyme action, and a host of others. Each example is critically chosen, considering its role and function in life and metabolism. This makes the matter very interesting and practical. Paralleling this are given descriptions of diseases and biochemical disorders as well as historical perspectives. The last part, molecular physiology, gives a lucid exposition of the fundamental biochemical processes in living organisms. In fact, the whole point of view in the book is a physiological one. The book is unlike Lehninger, which is essentially a traditional textbook. Even though Lehninger is great as an introductory book, Stryer is, in my opinion, the book to read if you want to learn biochemistry as a discipline which should be viewed as an exciting excursion into human metabolism and life.
Review of new edition (Berg, Tymockzo):
I had written a favourable review earlier for a previous edition of Stryer. I rest my case for the latest edition too. Jeremy Berg and John Tymoczko, both accomplished authors, join Lubert Stryer in producing this time tested and comprehensive book. If you are someone like me, who believes that enzymes and proteins are the key to understanding the mysteries of life, then this book is for you. While it may not have as much coverage of nucleic acid chemistry biochemistry as some of the other books, I believe that the next revolution in biology is going to hinge upon our understanding of SYSTEMS. And while an understanding of genes is crucial as enabling knowledge, if you really consider all the actual action that happens in biochemical systems, almost all of it is mediated by enzymes and receptors. Stryer’s new edition has literally hundreds of pictures and discussions of proteins and enzymes which explain the structure and function of these magnificent biological agents. The book has still retained the concise and yet comprehensive style which made its previous edition so good. Again, the book strikes a good balance between textbook and medical biochemistry, which is its great strength. Small boxes and side discussions throw light on the most interesting events connected with drug metabolism and disease. As a side point, the discussions about nucleic acid biology which the authors HAVE included are pretty good in themselves. Biochemistry is one of the most exciting branches of scientific research. This is because first of all it is highly interdisciplinary, enjoying a wonderful synergy with organic and inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and physics, and of course, biology. Secondly, Biochemistry is an extraordinarily dynamic subject and biochemical knowledge doubles every five years. Discoveries in biochemistry directly affect medical science. In the 21st century, it continues to promise us radical understanding into the working of life, and any good biochemistry book should ideally convey this excitement to the reader. This one does. The bottom line is, if you want to get excited about the miracle that is called life, and want to do it in a rational way, Stryer is still one of the very best. I hope it continues to be so.