Top critical review
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This book is pointless
on 26 August 2014
Atkins acknowledges that chemistry at school is ''largely incomprehensible, fact-rich but understanding-poor'' for most people but then goes about writing a book that is exactly that - A level and GCSE chemistry (without diagrams) condensed into a short book.
I have a background in chemistry so could follow everything, but my wife who hasn't studied science since GCSE found it incomprehensible.
I was disappointed by the examples that were given to illustrate chemistry's importance. In none of them did Atkins bother to connect the principles in the first part of the book so the applications become vague. Also, all of them are industrial cases carried out by professional chemists. Yes, they have had a huge impact on human life but they were all examples where, for non-chemists, they are simply the recipients of the chemistry rather than users of chemistry. If chemistry is everything and you want the average joe to connect with chemistry how about providing examples showing how they are performing chemistry (eg cooking) in their everyday lives?
Underlying all of this is the style that the book is written. It stinks of someone who has spent their life in an ivory tower and is off-putting. If you don't come from a middle-class background you won't enjoy the language that is used to write this book.
So this book comes across as being rather pointless. Experienced chemists don't need this book, they know everything in here. Non-chemists can't follow most of this book - it's too confusing. Current chemistry students don't need the first part of the book - they've just been taught the material in a clearer manner than presented in this book. Who is this book for?