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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bruce A. Fenderson, PhD (Thomas Jefferson University)
Description: This is the third edition of an introduction to the exciting world of cell biology. As the authors note, "in our world there is no form of matter more astonishing than the living cell." The book's 20 concise chapters cover topics ranging from membranes and mitochondria to stem cells and cancer.
Purpose: The authors' purpose is to "explain, in a way that can be understood even by a reader approaching modern biology for the first time, how the living cell works." This book is derived in part from the larger textbook by the same authors, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 5th edition (Garland Science, 2008). The value of this abridged book is that it provides "a digestible, straightforward, and engaging account of only the essential principles."
Audience: This is an outstanding companion text for undergraduate and graduate-level courses in cell biology (cellular biochemistry). It is written for students across a wide range of life science disciplines, including developmental biology, biochemistry, and biophysics. The authors are outstanding research scientists, noted authors, and highly regarded educators.
Features: Readers will experience a sense of awe and wonder about life on Earth. The authors are mindful of the ancient evolutionary history of cell structure and function, and they take time to instruct students on innovative and successful approaches to scientific inquiry. Molecular models highlight examples of biological structure. Full-color illustrations and photomicrographs are easy to understand and highlight key points. Open-ended questions throughout the book and at the end of each chapter stimulate critical thinking and application of knowledge. For example, one color-coded question box asks: "How do cells in plant roots survive, since they do not have chloroplasts and are not exposed to sunlight?" (Answers are in the back of the book.) The CD that is included contains video clips, animations, molecular structures and high-resolution photomicrographs — a real treasure trove of ancillary information for students and teachers alike. The inside front cover is filled with helpful information, including a chart of amino acids and their codons, as well as units of measure and other useful constants and conversions. The book also includes a glossary.
Assessment: The authors organize and explain the basic intracellular processes that are critical for life. Large font and colorful graphics make the book student-friendly. It is comprehensive yet concise, and it is polished in every detail, from the lively front cover to colorful illustrations and beautiful photomicrographs that highlight current research. I enjoyed seeing the examples of research methods, such as the use of fluorescent tags and antibodies to reveal the subcellular localization of biomolecules. This book provides a great introduction to cell biology. It is well written, carefully edited, and a joy to read. I highly recommend it for undergraduates and graduate students in the life sciences. Every biology department and health science library should have multiple copies on hand.