Organic Chemistry (5th Edition)
This innovative book from acclaimed educator Paula Bruice is organized in a way that discourages rote memorization. The author’s writing has been praised for anticipating readers’ questions, and appeals to their need to learn visually and by solving problems. Emphasizing that learners should reason their way to solutions rather than memorize facts, Bruice encourages them to think about what they have learned previously and apply that knowledge in a new setting. KEY TOPICS The book balances coverage of traditional topics with bioorganic chemistry, highlights mechanistic similarities, and ties synthesis and reactivity together–teaching the reactivity of a functional group and the synthesis of compounds obtained as a result of that reactivity. For the study of organic chemistry.
About the Author
Paula Yurkanis Bruice was raised primarily in Massachusetts, Germany, and Switzerland and was graduated from the Girls’ Latin School in Boston. She received an A.B. from Mount Holyoke College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Virginia. She received an NIH postdoctoral fellowship for study in biochemistry at the University of Virginia Medical School, and she held a postdoctoral appointment in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale Medical School.
She is a member of the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she has received the Associated Students Teacher of the Year Award, the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, and two Mortar Board Professor of the Year Awards. Her research interests concern the mechanism and catalysis of organic reactions, particularly those of biological significance. Paula has a daughter and a son who are physicians and a son who is a lawyer. Her main hobbies are reading mystery/suspense novels and her pets (three dogs, two cats, and a parrot).
Book is very complex for an intro organic chem text, July 1, 2007
It may seem unfair to give only 3 stars to what amounts to a very solid textbook — but it is 3 stars in comparison to the best texts that are available for undergraduate organic chemistry. First, the good. The text is well illustrated with Spartan density drawings and colorful pictures and sidebars of various organic chemists that help maintain interest in the reading. The book is printed on high-quality paper and the binding is durable, which should help it withstand the beating given it by a diligent student. Color is used more liberally than other textbooks (such as McMurry); this is one of the best looking books available on the market for organic chemistry. Additionally, the chapters at the end of the book that highlight the role of organic chemistry in enzymology and drug discovery are a nice addition for classes geared more towards medical students/biologists.
Now the bad. First, the organization is quite different than other textbooks. In some areas the reorganization is a welcome change, but I question some of them. In particular, an extensive treatise of the nomenclature of the functional groups at the beginning of the book (Second chapter) delays the introduction of reactions; it makes for a tedious opening and leaves the impression that organic chemistry is a topic for pedants. Additionally, bunching together all the elimination reactions after the chapter on alkynes prevents a real introduction to multistep synthesis until Chapter 9, almost 400 pages into the book.
Perhaps more importantly for the student, the text is not as readable as, say, McMurry, Jones, or Wade. Part of the problem is simply that the book is so incredibly detailed. It’s almost as if the author tried to condense both an undergraduate organic chemistry text and a graduate text into one, perhaps in order to justify its hefty pricetag (250$ for the book and solutions manual). In my opinion, the onslaught of information, particularly in the spectroscopy and substitution and elimination chapters, is simply overwhelming. Lastly, the student solutions manual–which should be the lifeblood of any student trying to learn the subject–is riddled with errors, an unexcusable foul for a book in its fifth edition. These errors undermine the confidence of students in their ability to work the problems.
Despite these faults, this is still a good text. The level of detail, while in my opinion stifling for most undergraduates trying to learn the material, makes it a good reference book. Given it’s deeper coverage than other textbooks, it may work well in a course for chemistry majors. For most, however, the texts by Wade or McMurry offer better alternatives.
This book provides greater depth and better explanations than the other books I used. The McMurry text briefly mentions a few topics in a single sentence, which many other introductory and outline books entirely omit (so I suggest not wasting time with them). This book actually contains reasonable explanations for those topics, which made it a good supplementary text.
The style of this book is not too wordy; neither is it overly terse. However, it is difficult to read any math/chemistry/physics/etc text as a novel and expect to gain much from it, so work problems while reading any book of this nature.