Chemistry of the soil

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THE ALKALOIDS: CHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGY. VOLUME N Edited by R. H. F. Monske, Dominion Rub- ber Research Laboratory, and H. L. Holmes. Academic Press, Ine., New York, 1954. x + 357 pp. 3 7 tables. 1 6 X 23.5 cm. $8.50. HETEROCYCLIC COMPOUNDS WITH INDOLE AND CARBAZOLE SYSTEMS W. C. Sumpter, Western Kentucky State College, and F. M. Miller, University of Maryland. Interscience Publishers, Inc., New York, 1954. xii + 307 pp. 6 figs. 8 tables. 16 X 23.5 cm. $10 BOTH these volumes are members of series, and both are authoritative and thorough compilations of the information to be found in the original litemture. They will be particularly useful to workers whose field of interest is close to the special topics covered. They will also probably be widely useful to those who may have occa- sion to look up bits of information within the fields included. Neither is easy read- ing, but Sumpter and Miller will almost certainly be the more useful to the general reader attempting to extend his field of knowledge. The Manske and Holmes volnme is can- eerned with isoquinoline classes of a l k e loids and with alkaloids of the Erythro- phleum, Aeonitum, and Delphinium groups (structure as yet unknown). This virtually completes the chemical discussion of this series of volumes. Only one addi- tional chemical chapter devoted to mis- cellaneous alkaloids remains to be pub- lished. I t will be included with tho ma- terial on pharmacology in Vohme V. The authors who have contributed to Mmske and Holmes soem to assume a, considerable degree of familiarity with the literature, which unfortun&ly is not possessed by the reviewer. While this severely limits its usefulness to the casual reader, i t undoubtedly greatly increases its value to the specialist. I t soems likely that this volume will even be useful in many ways to those who have long worked in the fields covered. Sumpter and Miller make no pretense of complete coverage of the literature in the Beilstein sense. Nevertheless, it ap- pears that anyone who would study one of their chapters cssefully would get an ex- tensive and very nearly complete picture of the chemistry of the compound covered and those closely related to it. The chap- ter headings are: Indole, Carharole, Isa- tin, Oxindole, Isatogins, Indoxyl, Indigo, and Natural Products Containing the Indole Nucleus. The last chapter, comprising about a third of the book, is understandably wrib ten from a somewhat different point of view. The ernphs~is here is largely on proof of structure; in the earlier chapters it is more on methods of prepamtion and reactions. This book cannot be reeom- mended for an evening of relaxation, but it is certainly just what anyone would want who wished to read up on such a topic as the proof of structure of strych- nine and brucine or the methods of prep* ration and reactions of isatin. The liberal use of structural formulas and equations is a big help to readers who are not thor- oughly familiar with the field. The nomenclature often leaves somethine to be to be discussing. This common tendency should not be encouraged. I t is always distracting and sometimes confusing. In the present case, however, there seems to be no difficulty in determining what the authors mean. The references are listed in footnotes in Sumpter and Xiller, which is probably the best possible way, and accumulated as a. separate list a t the end of each chapter in Manske and Holmes, which is certainly the worst possible way. Onc finds him- self flipping pages constantly, and then often ending up with the wrong bibliog- raphy a t the end of some other chapter. Sumpter and Miller is the integrated vark of a pair of closely collaborating authors. Man8ke and Holmes is a collection of more or less independent monographs of greatly vsrying lengths (645 pages) written by many different authorities. As such, i t probably has an nnusunl degree of relia- bility. Unfortunately, there is reason to doubt the thoroughness of the editing. At least, there seems to have been no consistency in the copy editing, since in two chapters the nitrogen atom in the iso- quinoline nucleus is printed entirely out- side the hexagon in a fashion incon~istent with the representation in all the other chapters and in a. fashion far which the reviewer knows no valid precedent. LAWRENCE H. AMUNDSEN UN~YERSITI OF CON~ECTICUT G~onss, Colrnec~,cur CHEMISTRY OF THE SOIL Edited by Firmon E. Beor, Former Chair- man, Department of Soils, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. A. C. S. Monograph No. 126. Reinhold Publishing Corp., New York, 1955. x + 373 pp. Figs. Many tables. $8.75. THIS greatly needed monograph on soil chemistry is the first of its kind to be Pub- lished. Fourteen soil chemists present a. broad coverage of soil chemistry and some treatment of the closely related fields of soil development and inorganic plant nu- trition. I t is valuable as a text for present- ing the general chemistry of the soil and should serve as a. valuable reference for persons in related fields. Inasmuch as some of the topics covered are still can- troversial, the monograph will also un- doubtedly serve a useful function in stimu- lating additional research. After a brief historical introduction, ten chapters are arranged in a logical 8e- quence. They deal with soil develop- ment; chemical composition; colloid chemistry; cation and anion exchange phenomena; soil organic matter; soil fixa- tion of plant nutrients; oxidation-reduc- tion processes; acid, alkaline, alkali, and saline soils; trace elements; and plant nu- trition. The appendis contains detailed quantitative methods used for soil analyses. Tho most serious general limitation of the monograph appears to be the incom. specific limitatio& appear w&hv of note: (1) The chapter dealing with soil chemistry and plant nutrition includes theories which are, a t best, only weakly supported; yet, much of the well-supported information on plant nutrition is not included. (2) Chemical methods are included in the appendix which are not in general use and which have not been widely accepted; for example, rapid electrodialysis in 0.05 N HaB08 for extraction of avdsh le nutrients in soil. The authors are to be commended for their contributions to this broad initial coverage of the field of sail chemistry. The format is satisfactory, and the book is, for the most part, well written and easily readable. A valuable selection of iUustra- tions and published data is included. The fact that much of soil chemistry is still emerging from a qualitative stage was an


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