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Chemistry (4th Edition) Hardcover – License, April 17, 2003

25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131402089 ISBN-10: 0131402080 Edition: 4th

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The novelist Kurt Vonnegut (a former chemistry major at Cornell University) has a scene in his 1963 book Cat's Cradle in which Francine Pefko, secretary to the famous chemist Dr. Nilsak Horvath, is bemoaning her job:

"I take dictation from Dr. Horvath and it's just like a foreign language. I don't think I'd understand it—even if I was to go to college."

"If there's something you don't understand, ask Dr. Horvath to explain it. He's very good at explaining. Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan."

The case may be overstated, but the underlying sentiment is valid: Scientists should be able to explain their subject in a clear and understandable way to anyone who is willing to learn. And that has been our goal in writing this book—to produce the most readable and effective teaching text possible. The outstanding success of the first three editions suggests that our goal has been met and encourages us to offer this new edition.

About this Book

Our primary goal in writing this book has been to fashion a clear, coherent narrative. We write to explain to students today the way we wish chemistry had been explained to us when we were students.

Beginning with atomic structure, proceeding next to bonding and molecules, ties of substances, and ending with a study of chemical properties, we have told a cohesive story about chemistry. Transitions between topics are smooth, explanations are lucid, and tie-ins to earlier material are frequent. Every attempt has been made to explain chemistry in a visual, intuitive way so that it can be understood by those who give it an honest effort.

Insofar as possible, distractions within the text are minimized. Each chapter is broken into numerous sections to provide frequent breathers, and each section has a consistent format. Sections generally begin with an explanation of their subject, move to a Worked Example problem that shows how to work with the material, and end with one or more Problems for the reader to work through. Each chapter ends with a brief Interlude that describes an interesting application or extension of the chapter subject.

About the Fourth Edition

In preparing this fourth edition, we have again reworked the entire book at the sentence level to make it as easy as possible for a reader to understand and learn chemistry. Among the many changes and improvements, much art has been redrawn to show molecular views of chemical processes, many new molecular models have been added, and numerous electrostatic potential maps have been included to show the polarity patterns in molecules.

Problems and problem solving have also received a great deal of attention in this 4th edition. The use of visual, non-numerical "Key Concept" problems has been expanded. The number of these problems, which test an understanding of the material rather than the ability to put numbers into a formula, has increased, and Worked Key Concept Examples have been included in each chapter to show how to approach these problems. Don't make the mistake of thinking that these Key Concept problems are simple just because they don't have numbers. Many are real challenges that will test the ability of any student.

Among other changes to the problems, the Worked Examples found at the end of text sections have been rewritten to begin with a Strategy discussion that shows how to approach the problem, and many now end with a Ballpark Check to make sure the calculated answer makes sense. Finally, we have added a substantial number of challenging new end-of-chapter problems that should prove thought-provoking to even the best students.

We hope that this new edition will meet the goals we have set for it and that students will find it to be friendly, accessible, and above all effective in teaching chemistry.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1328 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 4th edition (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131402080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131402089
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.6 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #806,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John E. McMurry received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. at Columbia University. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation Fellow. He has received several awards, which include the National Institutes of Health Career Development Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, and the Max Planck Research Award. In addition to ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, he is also the author or coauthor of ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, A BIOLOGICAL APPROACH, FUNDAMENTALS OF ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, THE ORGANIC CHEMISTRY OF BIOLOGICAL PATHWAYS, CHEMISTRY, and FUNDAMENTALS OF GENERAL, ORGANIC, AND BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Z. Carter on November 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm currently working through this book now as it's the required text for my General Chemistry course(s). I have to say that I've had a harder time reading (and understanding) this text than usual. I would not begin to recommend this book for general study, but let's face it, the only reason you're likely to buy this book is because it's required.

So here's how to use it:

Plan to read only one or two sections (4-5 pages per Section) in a study session. Read it, work through the solved problems, skip to the problems covering that topic at the back of the chapter and see how well you do.

Buy the solutions manual - if you write out all your work (and you should, will particularly help if you forget how to solve something and your professor gives an open book/note exam), looking over the worked solutions will help.

Write down questions on specific problems and parts of the text/chapter you didn't understand. Ask a tutor or the instructor.

The text is a hard read, but you -can- get through it. If I can do it, so can you.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting text for a one year general chemistry course. While all general chemistry texts form major publishers have some convergence so they all cover similar basic material, they all have different organizing ideas. What I enjoyed about this text is that it has a clear organizing principle: the periodic table of elements.

The authors not only do the best job I have seen of explaining the origin, evolution, and principles of the periodic table, they also use the properties of groups of elements to illustrate all the principles discussed in the course of the text. This helps the student organize his or her thinking about the ideas discussed in each chapter and section.

In addition to the information imparted in each chapter, the text has many illustrations, use of color in the text itself, a key concept summary (which is a helpful chart that can help the student memorize the ideas and check through their understanding of the principles discussed), key words, understanding key concepts, additional problems (with the red numbered problems having their solutions at the back of the text - most helpful for self study), general problems, and multi-concept problems (involving principles learned in previous chapters and multiple steps). The book also comes with its own CD that has information, animations, and presentations to aid the student in learning the material in each chapter. I particularly like the emphasis in the text on real world applications and processes. The articles the authors call "interludes" are quite interesting and informative.

The authors are correct in urging the student to not simply start reading the material left to right, but to look through the chapter and begin absorbing what is going to be discussed before starting to read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By sleuth on September 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've taken AP Chemistry in high school, and took chemistry again in college, so I am familiar with a few chemistry texts. This book astounded me. It was much simpler, more organized, and was full of helpful illustrations, graphs, etc. It's one of the best science texts I've ever used.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This text emphasizes conceptual understanding of chemical principles by providing many conceptual example and end-of-chapter problems. It will greatly help those who know what meaningful study is and how to do it. Trying to memorize formula, facts, and procudures of solving different types of problems is not study and will result in poor grades in college chemistry classes.
As for the price, all textbooks nowadays are very expensive. I'm not sure if there is anything we can do about it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Harp on November 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm amazed at the diversity of reviews for this textbook. Usually, I can spot an exceptinal science textbook and usually the reviews are petty much in agreement but this one is an exception. Oh well - we all have our own opinions, and that's a good thing.

I'm currently into studying Biochemistry and Physics. I bought this book after seeing a pdf version that was part of a "Great Science Textbooks..." collection. As I started browsing the file I found myself being captivated by just about any section I skipped into. That is, I was learning and re-learning some of the fundamentals which I thought I already knew (and probably should've, but didn't), and it was like an "AHAH!" experience when the light would go on. This was great fun! I enjoyed that so much I immediately ordered the book. I began referring back to it to help me with my Biochem studies (via Lehninger and a couple other texts). The last chapter of this textbook is on Biochemistry and actually does a better job at introducing many of the key aspects of that subject than my Biochemistry textbooks. I still find myself frequently consulting this textbook and its resources for a large variety of issues that would otherwise remain subtle points of confusion or mystery. So, I have to give it 5 stars and a hearty recommenation.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
No chemistry textbook can be used exclusivly to learn chemistry. A student must attend the lectures and show up for recitation in order to understand the concepts more fully. Chemistry is not an easy subject; it involves math and an imaginative mind in order to picture what one cannot see. If your instructor has not required it, you should consider buying the solutions manual. Let's face it- how do you know your answers are right? It may cost a good amount, but you can always resell it when you're done with the course. This text actually provides more diagrams than any other text I have seen thus far and I believe it is easier to read and comprehend than other texts. This is a text for someone who can sit down and study. Although, this is coming from a chem major, so I sometimes find myself wondering why people find it hard, just like you may find it hard for people to understand something you are interested in.
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