Vol. 4  Iss. 5
The Chemical Educator 
1999 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 

ISSN 1430-4171
S 1430-4171(99) 04322-2 

Book Review  

Inorganic Chemistry, 2nd edition
by Gary L. Miessler and Donald A. Tarr

 Reviewed by
George B. Kauffman
California State University Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034

Inorganic Chemistry, 2nd ed.; By Gary L. Miessler and Donald A. Tarr. Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1999. Figures, tables, charts. xiv + 642 pp, 21.0 26.0 cm. $92.00. ISBN 0-13-841891-8 (Photo reproduced with permission from Prentice-Hall, Inc).

Unfortunately, the first edition (1991) of this excellent textbook by two chemistry professors at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, did not receive adequate reviews. As in the earlier edition, the authors emphasize molecular orbitals and symmetry in order to explain many aspects of the bonding, structure, and reactivity of inorganic compounds. In contrast to more traditional, lengthy, and encyclopedic textbooks such as Cotton and Wilkinson's Advanced Inorganic Chemistry or Greenwood and Earnshaw's Chemistry of the Elements, which present the descriptive chemistry of the elements according to periodic table groups, this book is a balanced blend of theory and facts, organized on a topical basis. Nevertheless, considerable descriptive chemistry is integrated into the book's sixteen chapters, many of which begin with historical background material.

In addition to selecting what they consider the most appropriate and interesting topics for an upper level undergraduate inorganic course, Miessler and Tarr have succeeded in making their text accessible to students by increasing the number of examples and exercises within the chapters. Answers to the examples are included in the chapters themselves, while answers to the 90 exercises are relegated to one of the nine appendices (The others present valuable data: ionic radii; ionization energy; electron affinity; Pauling electronegativities; absolute hardness parameters; CA, EA, CB, and EB values; character tables; and electron-dot diagrams and formal charge).

Numerous problems (338 in all) conclude every one of the chapters except for the first. Answers are not provided so the problems may be assigned as homework. A solutions manual is available from the publisher. In order to encourage use of the literature by both students and instructors, the authors have retained the extensive references of the first edition, many to historic or classic papers or books, and they have increased the number of problems taken from recent articles, which are cited in the problems. References cited in the text (some as recent as 1998) appear at the bottoms of the pages, while general references are given in single paragraphs just before the problems. Numerous equations and reaction schemes, as well as 361 figures and 132 tables, are provided. An extremely detailed (7 quadruple-column pages in small type) index facilitates location of material. Despite the addition of new material, the text of the new edition is only 20 pages longer than that of the first.

Chapter 1, "Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry" (13 pp, the shortest chapter), briefly surveys the broad scope of the field ("If organic chemistry is defined as the chemistry of hydrocarbon compounds and their derivatives, inorganic chemistry can be described ... as the chemistry of 'everything else'") and also deals with the big bang theory and nucleosynthesis. Following Chapters 2, 3, and 4, "Atomic Structure," "Simple Bonding Theory," and "Symmetry and Group Theory" (with examples of applications to molecular vibrations and chirality), respectively, Chapter 5, "Molecular Orbitals," applies group theory to the construction of molecular orbitals.

Chapter 6, "Acid-Base and Donor-Acceptor Chemistry," discusses various acid-base concepts, emphasizing applications of molecular orbitals to acid-base interactions. Chapter 7, "The Crystalline Solid State," a chapter new to this edition, deals with semiconductors, superconductors, and other modern topics in solid state inorganic chemistry. Chapter 8, "Chemistry of the Main Group Elements" (52 pp, the longest chapter), surveys the periodic table (using traditional as well as suggested IUPAC group designations) and is the chapter closest in approach to what is considered descriptive chemistry. It includes recent developments in cryptands, crown ethers, boranes, carboranes, fullerenes, and carbon nanotubes.

The chemistry of the transition elements is dealt with in the next six chapters, the first four of which, Chapters 9-12 ("Coordination Chemistry I-IV"), deal with structures and isomers, bonding, electronic spectra, and reactions and mechanisms, respectively, of classical transition metal complexes. The treatment of coordination chemistry has been rearranged, with the descriptive portions and nomenclature occurring earlier than in the first edition. In Chapter 9, the IUPAC rule of placing anionic before neutral ligands in formulas is not consistently followed, and the charges are omitted from the formulas in Figure 9-1. In Chapter 10, group theory is applied to coordination compounds. The discussion of terms and microstates has been moved from Chapter 2 to Chapter 11 to precede immediately the interpretation of spectra of coordination compounds, its most common use, and has been written so that it can still be used with the discussion of atomic spectra for those wishing to follow the organization of the first edition.

Chapters 13 and 14, "Organometallic Chemistry" and "Organometallic Reactions and Catalysis" respectively, provide a useful introduction to organometallic compounds, their spectra, and reactions, with emphasis on catalytic cycles and their application to industrial chemistry. In Chapter 13, sandwich, cluster, carbonyl, nitrosyl, hydride, dihydride, alkyl, carbyne, ferrocene, metallocene, and fullerene compounds are discussed, and group theory is applied to the infrared spectra of organometallic compounds. In Chapter 14, organometallic reactions involving gain or loss of ligands (ligand dissociation and substitution, oxidative addition, reductive elimination, and nucleophilic displacement) and involving modification of ligands (insertion, carbonyl insertion, hydride elimination, and abstraction) are discussed.

The authors think that seeking similarities in the chemistry of different types of compounds can be an extremely valuable exercise that can lead to a more thorough understanding of the type of compounds being compared and may suggest new chemical compounds or new types of reactions. Therefore they have included a very interesting Chapter 15, "Parallels Between Main Group and Organometallic Chemistry," which emphasizes Roald Hoffmann's isolobal analogy and similarities between main group and transition metal clusters. The text concludes with Chapter 16, "Bioinorganic and Environmental Chemistry," which discusses the role of compounds such as porphyrins and other iron compounds; magnesium, cobalt, and nitrogen compounds; zinc and copper enzymes, in biological processes and metals such as mercury and lead as well as nonmetals such as sulfur, nitrogen oxides, and ozone in environmental problems.

I am pleased to recommend heartily this thoroughly updated and revised edition of a relatively brief and user-friendly survey of inorganic chemistry with its strong coverage of molecular symmetry and group theory as well as inclusion of important chemically and socially relevant topics.