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Principles of Chemistry Hardcover – July 17, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0393972887 ISBN-10: 0393972887 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Can Munowitz write or what! His hortatory, grab-'em-by-the-scruff-of-the-neck-and-don't-let-go-until-they-get-it style is great! It moves along and is not boring. Here is an author with enthusiasm and a point of view. The problems are even interesting I worked some out myself just for the fun of it. -- John J. Alexander, University of Cincinnati

I particularly like the author's very careful and detailed discussions of the physical mechanisms behind the various equations that he presents. I know of no introductory textbook in which this is done as well. -- Colin MacKay, Haverford College

If I wanted a student to learn the material on his or her own, I'd hand them Munowitz. -- Robert Cave, Harvey Mudd College

Relegating the 'gritty practicality' to the review and problems section at the end of the chapter makes possible a more focused and seamless introduction to the concepts, which makes possible more engaging writing. The extended summary allows repetition and recapitulation of the concepts, which I think may enhance retention of the material. Clustering the problems and using an engaging 'dialogue' to introduce and relate them helps the students see a scientist's thinking modeled. -- Michael Fuson, Denison University

The text reveals the beauty of chemistry in an unusual, graceful narrative style. Compared to standard textbooks, it is poetic.... The presentation of problems is unusual and particularly attractive.... By postponing instruction on problems until the end of the chapter, Munowitz avoids interruptions in the compelling narrative and invites undivided attention to the problems when they are addressed. The concise power of Munowitz's writing is most evident in the Introduction, which tells what chemistry is better than any other text I know. -- Henry Griffin, University of Michigan

This is an amazing book. It's not just beautifully written or perfectly accurate or entrancing to read, although it is all that. What is more important is that it practices what it describes, namely the scientific search for truth. Munowitz's attention to the exact meanings of individual words mirrors a similar scrupulousness with respect to the macroscopic structure--the book. The effect is as captivating as a suspense novel. I have simply never come across a chemistry text so well written . . .. It is well known that most incoming freshmen who intend to major in science change their minds in the first year, probably because of the massive tedium of introductory curricula. Many manage to pass only by rote memorization of words that have no meaning for them--mass, force, energy, etc. This book has the capacity to change that. -- Edward T. Samulski, University of North Carolina

[The Munowitz text] takes a principles-driven approach that displays the unity and coherence of the physical sciences by emphasizing the relationship between microscopic structure and macroscopic properties. The author writes with a crisp, direct, no nonsense, yet polished style. The analogies are appropriate, the imagery vivid, and the science accurate.... The book represents a paradigm shift and promises to be the text for the next millennium. -- James Harrison, Michigan State University

About the Author

Michael Munowitz is currently a full-time science writer. A graduate of Yale College (summa cum laude, with distinction in chemistry), he obtained his Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard University and did postdoctoral work at the University of Leiden and the University of California, Berkeley. He has published more than 50 research papers in a variety of fields, including solid-state and two-dimensional NMR, computational chemistry, and waveguide design, and is the author of the book Coherence and NMR.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1616 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (July 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393972887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393972887
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Too cumbersome and the text is not at all clear.
Raymond J. Pohl
He also conveys that for motivated students with a good background in science & math, the book is "a rich source of insight into the nature of chemistry".
AC
This was my required text book for honors chem, and I enjoyed it, but then again I actually enjoy chemistry.
Alpha492

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By David Dennis on May 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm sure that after reading all these blatantly contradictory reviews, you're a bit confused about this textbook. Is it the best thing since sliced bread, or is it something to be avoided at all costs?

Well, the complex truth is that it's both.

This book was written by someone who loves the subject, who's passionate about it, and that really shows in his writing. After reading flat and boring textbooks that read as though they were produced by sadists, all of a sudden you get an eloquent tribute to the wonderful, inspiring aspects of the field.

As a result, it appeals greatly to Chemistry teachers, especially the best ones - the ones who want to genuinely show their passion for the subject and inspire their students. And I don't blame those teachers. If I were one, I'd be strongly tempted to assign this book, because it is, well, actually good. Who wants to reward mediocrity in a world that's drab and dull enough?

So why are students less than appreciative?

Well, what you are expected to do in Chemistry is get through it. You're expected to do the math and solve the problems and pass the tests. It is not, from what I have seen, a subject that inspires students. It's one they have to survive.

And this book does not give students the tools they need to survive. Concepts like molecular weights and empirical formula -- boring concepts, but ones necessary to solve every chemistry problem that exists -- are glossed over at warp speed, dismissed in a single paragraph. They are relegated into the dreaded "R-pages", the segments of the book devoted to problem solving.

You are not asked to solve simple problems; you are plunged straight into complex, multilayered ones.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dan Dill on December 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the most extraordinary general chemistry text I have ever encountered in 25 years of teaching. It is completely unlike all other texts that I know of. It is clear from the first page of the preface and reinforced on page after page thereafter that the author has a deep understanding of the way the physical world works *and* an exceptional gift for communicating that understadning in an engaging, precise way. The book is a joy to read. We owe the author an enormous debt for such a grand gift to science exposition.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book beautifully expalins the basic principles of chemistry. It is meant to be used by mature learners who understand what learning a subject is really about. Unfortuntely, most college students nowadays think learning is spitting out what they just swallowed without going through their mind. Our secondary education just does not prepare them well enough to use texts like this. They should start with a more traditional textbook and later on use this book to enhance their conceptual understaning of chemical principles.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Munowitz incorporates basic chemistry ideas with graceful writing skills in his "Principles of Chemistry". This text is no doubt one of those that completely stands out from other common chemistry texts. This is the text I use in college, and I must warn you all readers that you might scratch your head a lot of times, trying to figure out what the author really tries to say. I know that Munowitz knows his subject, but just that he could have been more straightforward when explaining confusing concepts. There are some mistakes and typos, which will probably be corrected in the 2nd edition. Every chapter also comes with a summary, sample problems, and exercises. Make sure to study the sample problems because the author often presents new concepts or equations there.
This is a decent text; but unless you know your chemistry very well, get another reference.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Abigail Nussey on November 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am a student of a reviewer above, and although he may find the text to be conceptually enlightening, for a student of first year chemistry applying it is a joke! Munowitz sets up his chapters unconventionally -- he explains concepts and 'derives' equations in the first part of the chapter, and then has a 'gray section' at the back of the chapter which contains problems and examples. Often the gray sections seem alien to the chapter before it: finding out how a redox reaction runs is much more concrete than describing what a Lewis base is. In order for Munowitz to be more effective, he must include his example in the body of the chapter itself, and marry concepts with applications. It is notable to include that the average grade on exams for students who take this class using the Munowitz book is about 50%, and most are very hardworking!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nagarajan Narayanaswamy on March 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The best part of the book is its illustrations and diagrams explaining the concepts

The author has taken care to explain the basics and principles in very clear manner for all branches of chemistry in a unified manner. The chapters of molecular orbital theory, formation of sigma and pi bond, principles of organic reactions are all beautifully explained, again with superb illustrations.

My advice is just go to library, I am sure they will have in the reference section, look at it and you will certainly impressed with the content.

This book's primary aim is to explain the principles and you may not find extensive number of problems solved, although it has quite a good number of problems for each chapter. Again each problem is explained how it is solved, not just with numbers and equations but with discussions. Well, to me this approach is empowering rather than spoon feeding.

Yes it is costly , but it not more than two video games!!

It is worth having in your personal library. Read and enjoy the world of Chemistry.
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