Most helpful critical review
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Much of the material is copied, wrong or chem. 101
on June 10, 2012
The title of this book, and the subject matter, would lead one to expect this is a professional reference for chemists, people working with industrial processes or students. It is none of these.
It's full of grade school chemistry lessons, such as an entire page devoted to the folding of filter paper, including step-by-step illustrations. There are listings for each common acid, such as hydrochloric, nitric, sulfuric, along with charts listing how much acid to add to how much water to make various concentrations. Adding 100ml of water to 100ml of concentrated nitric acid yields 50% nitric acid. Who would have thought? This is repeated for every 10% change in concentration, with each acid type. Often these instructions have mixed units. A 20% concentration is listed in ml and then 30% is listed in mg. If one does not know how to perform the most basic of lab procedures, such as mixing acid to required strength, they probably shouldn't be trying to synthesize dangerous and often toxic organic compounds.
There are numerous processes and synthesis listed. The information varies from material obviously copied out of patents, military manuals and product literature, to homebrew instructions that border on the absurd, such as the method to distill gasoline. So far, my favorite is the instructions for nitroglycerine, which shows a separatory funnel set up, with the dire warning "make sure the apparatus does not tip over"! I always thought you were suppose to juggle the apparatus along with some flaming logs and a chainsaw while making nitro. Many of the listed procedures vary significantly from industry standard practices. Sometimes in bizarre ways, such as stirring a mixture for 24 hours, when the reaction should have fully completed in only a few minutes.
There are the sections bordering on the bizarre. In one section the author describes in great detail how if you should imbed 1 pound of TNT into your chest, your body will be blown into "about 10 jagged pieces". What if you got 20 not so jagged pieces? Does it mean something went wrong? The book goes on with similar childish descriptions such as "jagged, uneven, bits of bone, flesh and body parts, removed or left dangling" and so on.
The grammar is poor, obvious spelling errors, etc. Appears no editor or proofreader was used. Finally, there is no publisher listed anywhere in the book, and only a single copyright date of 2007. Kind of unusual for a book claiming to be in it's 3rd edition. There is also an amusing self-written copyright and disclaimer notice on the first page, with the statement that any attempts to sue the author "is a violation of knowledge and truth..."
I kept the book due to it's amusement value. It makes for some great laughs if you are a chemist or other scientist with a basic understanding of chemistry. Make sure to wear your tin foil hat while reading :)