The Chemical Educator, Vol. 7, No. 1, S1430-4171(02)01538-6, 10.1007/s00897020538a, 2002 Springer-Verlag New York, Inc.


Heterocyclic Chemistry; Series: Tutorial Chemistry Texts. By M. Sainsbury, University of Bath, U.K. 9.95. ISBN 0-85404-652-6.

Paddy Murphy, The Department of Chemistry, The University of Wales Bangor, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, p.j.murphy@bangor.ac.uk

The objective of this series of tutorial texts is to present fundamental chemistry topics at the undergraduate level, using a format based on the teaching found in a modular degree program. Each volume is designed to include a concise account of the principles of the subject being discussed and contains worked examples and questions so the student may work through the text and gauge their level of achievement.

This particular volume, which has its origins in the 2nd-year lecture notes of the author, fits this general plan well. It deals with the fundamental chemistry of fully saturated and unsaturated 4-, 5-, and 6-membered heterocycles focusing on those compounds containing a single heteroatom.


Specific subjects covered are: pyridine; benzopyridines; pyrylium salts, pyrans and pyrones; benzopyrylium salts, coumarins, chromones, flavonoids and related compounds; pyrrole; furan; thiophene; benzo[b]pyrrole; benzo[b]furan; benzo[b]thiophene and four-membered heterocycles containing a single heteroatom.

The author is also able to put the subject in context, drawing from a range of important natural and synthetic heterocycles that play a vital role in life and medicine. Key related topics are also covered where required.

Generally this volume is well presented, error free, reasonable priced, and is very easy to follow, flowing from topic to topic in a very logical fashion. I particularly like the summaries at the end of each chapter that enable the reader to pinpoint what they need to take from the work just discussed. This will help students increase their confidence in their ability to learn what can appear, at first glance, a quite daunting area of chemistry.

The worked examples and examination questions are also very good, as they reinforce basic principles. The inclusion of detailed answers at the end of the volume is also a very attractive feature for students. There are some omissions from the text; for example, a brief chapter on key heterocyclic compounds with two heteroatoms would have been advantageous.

The work will obviously have to compete with the more detailed texts (Joule and Mills; Gilchrist) and other tutorial style texts (Davies); however, the very competitive price might give it an advantage. I feel that this book is an excellent introduction to fundamental heterocyclic chemistry and would have no hesitation in recommending it as a core text in a chemistry degree program.