Vol. 4  Iss. 3 
The Chemical Educator 
1999 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 

ISSN 1430-4171
S 1430-4171(99) 03304-9 

Book Review  

Introduction to Organic Spectroscopy by Laurence M. Harwood and Timothy D. W. Claridge

Reviewed by
Barbara B. Kebbekus
New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, New Jersey

Introduction to Organic Spectroscopy by Laurence M. Harwood and Timothy D. W. Claridge, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997. ISBN 0-19-855755-8.

This brief textbook of under 100 pages contains a wealth of information in a tiny package. It is one of the Oxford Chemistry Primers series. While it might not fit the classic definition of a primer, a first book introducing a topic, it certainly is a valuable resource to the student of organic chemistry who wishes to have a brief, clear, and well-written introduction to the subject of spectroscopy. This is a compilation of information about the methods and applications of spectroscopy to the identification and structural elucidation of organic compounds.

The book begins with an introduction to the basic theory of spectroscopy, explaining the electromagnetic spectrum, developing Beer's law, and defining many of the important terms used in spectroscopy. The mathematics throughout the book is kept to a minimum, with verbal explanations and analogies substituting nicely for mathematical derivations.

UV–visible and infrared spectroscopy are each covered in one chapter. NMR spectroscopy is treated in two chapters, one on the basics and one with more advanced topics. The advantages and applications of Fourier transform spectroscopy in both IR and NMR spectroscopy are described, again in a nonmathematical way. A chapter devoted to mass spectrometry completes the book. In each case, the major emphasis is on the interpretation of data. However, basic instrumentation is also described for each method. For instance, in the MS chapter, magnetic-sector quadrupole and time-of-flight mass spectrometers are described, and several types of ionization systems are briefly treated.

Each chapter contains a set of exercises for the reader, mostly focused on interpretation of various spectra, and a short list of further readings. The answers to the exercises are also provided. The book would serve as a useful supplement to an undergraduate organic chemistry course, or to an instrumental analysis course. Students will appreciate the way it condenses the important points, with many easily located definitions of terms and good analogies to explain what might be difficult concepts. In addition, it would be a useful reference on the shelf of the graduate student or organic chemist who occasionally needs to interpret spectroscopic data or to determine what sort of spectroscopy should be done to obtain needed information.