Phys. Org. Chem. has always been one of my favourite subjects. As I graduated from school and college into university for my master's, I began to realise that it represents not so much a separate topic as a philosophy and approach; to treat chemical and biological systems from the perspective of structure, conformation, and reactivity, which are after all the most fundamental aspects of any such system. I reached the conclusion that phys org is a truly interdisciplinary framework, and any one who has a solid background in phys. org. can be a good computational chemist, synthetic organic chemist, and/or bioorganic/biochemist.
Unfortunately, all the classic phys org books until now have been of the 'pure' kind, focusing on mechanism and reactivity, but not discussing the interdisciplinary nature of the topic, especially for biological systems. My wait is over; Modern Physical Organic Chemistry by Dennis Dougherty and Eric Anslyn has completely and satisfactorily reinvented the phys org chem textbook. Now, one can look to a wholesome treatment of phys org as a multidisciplinary, fundamental, and exciting approach to both chemistry and biology. The book is worth its price, and covers the gamut of topics, including basic ones like mechanism, but also interspersed with lots of boxes explaining the applications of basic phys org concepts to host guest systems, proteins and nucleic acids, strained molecules, and materials science. Fantastic reference.
Dougherty of course is a great chemist doing some very interesting research ('Physical Organic Chem on the brain' as he calls it) and he gives a swashbuckling talk ('Nicotine is the most common molecule for all SAR studies!') as evidenced by his spiel in the Atlanta Spring 2006 ACS.
Incidentally, the book (and especially the section of E+ aromatic subtitution) reminded me of a jolly good ol thin British book by Peter Sykes- A Guidebook to Mechanism in Organic Chemistry. It's old, but worth every penny. I had digested it, and Sykes is the epitome of the British pedagogic tradition of explaining concisely and most accurately in one or two statements, something which other textbooks will take two paragraphs to say. A true vintage classic, and for its explanations of mechanisms, the best I have ever seen. I will never forget it. Happily, it is still available in its sixth edition on Amazon. Unfortunately, almost all Americans are unaware of it, and I am the Organator sent back from the future to introduce it to them.
Saffron - pricey condiment
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