Outlines of Biochemistry, 5th Edition by E E C o n n , P K Stumpf, G B r u e n i n g and R Y Doi. pp 693. J o h n Wiley and Sons, N e w York. 1987. £41.05 (Softback available at £14.95) ISBN 0-471-05288-4 This book has several good features. First, it is small enough for an introductory course in biochemistry. Second, its approach is broad and comparative, with more emphasis on topics in plant biochemistry than is usual. Third, it has an attractive and colourful format. Fourth, it attempts to incorporate a number of recent advances (especially in the area of molecular biology), while keeping the metabolic orientation of the previous editions. Though only 66 pages longer than the fourth edition it is quite different in that most chapters have been rewritten and several changes have been made in the organisation of the subject matter. For instance, the first chapter has been extensively revised, the last chapter is a new one which deals with gene rearrangements and non-cellular organisms, while the appendix on buffer and pH problems has been deleted and that on methods of biochemistry has been replaced by material in notes suitably placed in the appropriate chapters. It is unfortunate that the book contains numerous inconsistencies in terminology. For example oxalacetate and oxaloacetate, carbamoyl and carbamyl, diphosphoglyceric acid and bisphosphoglyceric acid and the same for the inositol phosphates, glucoseamine and glucosamine, light-density lipoproreins and low-density lipoproteins, endoplasmic reticulum and endoplasmic reticuli are used alternately. The plural of CoA is mostly given as the possessive (i.e. CoA's), while the structures of many metabolites are named without consideration to whether they are protonated or unprotonated. Small as these matters are, they can be very confusing to students at the beginning of the study of biochemistry when terminology is so important. They should have been detected in the proofreading stage especially with four authors being involved. Good teachers who adopt this book for their introductory courses will soon become aware of these aspects and will point out correct usage to their students. In that way the students will be able to benefit from the many good qualities that this book possesses. F Vella
Clinical Specimens: Analytical Chemistry by Open Learning ( A C O L ) by David Hawcroft and Terry Hector. pp 123 For A C O L , L o n d o n , by J o h n Wiley and Sons, Chichester, U K . 1987. £28 or £9.95 (pbk) I S B N 0 - 4 7 1 - 9 1 3 9 7 - 9 or 0 - 4 7 1 - 9 1 3 9 6 - 0 (pbk) A necessary prerequisite to the attainment of high quality analytical results is the availability of first class specimens. This is particularly relevant in clinical chemistry because very many problems can arise in the collection, transport and preservation of specimens of body fluids and tissues for analysis in the hospital or research laboratory. This text will not greatly assist in the achievement of this objective. The book is designed to be a discrete unit for up to Senior Technician level and to be studied at a pace dictated by individual requirements in 'Open Learning' situations. It is believed that methods for the satisfactory collection of clinical specimens can be appreciated only when seen in real practice. Moreover, the many problems that arise in specimen collection are best learned through practical experience. The book is attractively produced and printed, but the text has many faults. The material is organised in an inappropriate
BIOCHEMICAL EDUCATION 15(4) 1987
manner; the chapter on biopsy deals with collection of liver; lung, muscle and gut tissue and then with collection of saliva, gastric contents, faeces, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, sweat and pleural fluid - - the authors have little perspective on the relative importance of these different types of clinical specimen. The introduction of the Nernst equation on page 3 seems of little relevance, The term "serum" appears in the text before an explanation of the difference between serum and plasma. The influence of age and gender on the composition of blood has little relevance to specimen collection, although it is of vital importance in the correct interpretation of results; the term reference intervals should now be used in preference to the quoted reference ranges. Capillary blood specimens from adults cannot be used in assessment of blood gases - - if pO2 is included in this term. Provision of a figure of the structure of the repeating unit of heparin is a waste of space. The difference between urine preservatives and stabilisers is not appreciated. The authors use dm 3 as the unit of volume; clinical laboratories everywhere use the litre. The biological hazards associated with any clinical specimen deserve more attention. There are self-assessment questions throughout the text and model answers are provided. The book also contains 50 revision questions with responses. These are appropriate for the textual material. The problems of collection of clinical specimens should not have been a subject tackled in a series on Analytical Chemistry by Open Learning. If a student is required to participate in clinical analysis, the subject must be studied in more depth.
Collection and Handling of Laboratory Specimens: A Practical Guide, by Slockbower and Blumenfeld (Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1983, ISBN 0-397-50520-5) provides an excellent account. Callum G Fraser
Electrophoresis (Analytical Chemistry by Open Learning* Series) by M a u r e e n Melvin. pp 130. * A C O L , published by John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK. £9.95 (pbk) (also available in hardback at £28) 1SBN 0 - 4 7 1 - 9 1 3 7 5 - 8 The series of texts of ACOL is "a result of an initiative by the Committee of Heads of Polytechnic Chemistry Departments in the UK" to produce material suitable for 'Distance Learners'. They are aimed at the technician level rather than at the academic researcher and provide some background theory to the techniques described. The texts contain information, followed by self-study questions, to which comprehensive answers are given at the back of the book. The books contain space for writing responses - - a publishers' dream: a text that can be used once only! This particular one assumes quite a lot of physical and chemical knowledge as well as some biological chemistry (eg structure of amino acids, nucleotides, etc). The various chapters deal with general theory, types of electrophoretic system, support media, factors affecting electrophoretic mobility, detection, immunoelectrophoresis, and two-dimensional techniques. From a reading of the text on electrophoresis, it seemed to me that the educational approach of the text was, on the whole, reasonable, being friendly and non-intimidating and in giving reasonably comprehensive answers and plenty of guidance. The exception to this is the slightly odd injunction in the section "How to Use an Open Learning Text". It says that when you find a paragraph labelled with a certain symbol, " . . . this is where you get involved". This actually means the student has to do a calculation or draw a graph - - but it is an unfortunate phrase: one would hope that the student was involved throughout his reading of the text!