on 6 July 2004
For organic chemistry the relatively recent publication of "Organic Chemistry" by Warren and Wothers has made learning about it so much more simple, logical and pleasurable. For inorganic chemistry there is no equivalent, and "Basic Inorganic Chemistry" was a disappointment for the price. I would recommend that you do not buy it simply on the basis of my experience, which is that I never seemed to use it. This is mainly because it's heavy and pointless and contains material only of any worth for the first year to year-and-half of your degree.
I cannot recommend a particularly good Inorganic Chemistry text book, although for the basics there are a couple of good books from the Oxford Primers series, and Shriver and Atkins's imaginatively titled "Inorganic Chemistry" is somewhat more of a safe bet when looking for relevant information than Cotton's expensive door stop. I would give Shriver & Atkins 3 stars, and Cotton 2 stars.
The number of available text books in most areas of chemistry is quite vast, but the relatively low numbers of volumes worth reading is astoundingly tiny, never mind one's you'd want to pay for. As teaching undergraduate chemistry is nothing new, I find this quite surprising and it's high time for an injection of insight regarding academics' approach to the writing of teaching aids. This is true particularly in two areas: inorganic & physical chemistry (some vaccuum in the market!).
Besides Warren & Wothers, organic chemistry has also Sykes' classic "Mechanisms in Organic Chemistry" to cling to. Inorganic chemistry has nothing in terms of good texts, and physical chemistry is supported solely on Atkins' "Physical Chemistry", which is now in it's 674th edition. Atkins' is the best book for physical chemistry, but that doesn't mean he's good. He has only exploited the lack of any decent competition. Besides, I saw an interview with him on TV and he comes over as a pompous and arrogant boob.
As for the book at hand, "Basic Inorganic Chemistry" has had the opportunity for reform since it's revision from the original version published many decades ago. The marked absence of adequate improvement towards the standards that today's chemistry undergraduate expects indicates that the author's surname is a reflection of what resides between his ears.
I think it's grossly unfair (are you listening, Atkins?) for academics to make any money from the publication of second rate undergraduate teaching material. It's not just the contents of the book, but how the subject is presented and therefore TAUGHT.
on 22 January 2001
Basic Inorganic Chemistry is just that, basic. Most of the principles explained were covered in the 1st year of my degree course, or will be covered in the 2nd year. It gives good accounts and expansions on A-Level ideas and the basics necessary for degree level as well. It has sections on every element, and their common compounds as well as sections on structure, bonding, co-ordination chemistry etc. Personally, I found that I didn't use it as much as I hoped I would for the price, but that may just be because of the course I'm on, I'm sure it would be useful for people doing OU courses or similar. Overall, it's a good starting point, but may be too basic for people in the higher years of a degree.