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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Latha Malaiyandi, PhD (Midwestern University)
Description: Significant advances in the field of cell biology necessitate this update, which incorporates new information and cutting-edge research, and further simplifies both text and figures to emphasize key concepts. The previous edition was published in 2010.
Purpose: The goal is to provide a foundation in cell biology for beginner biologists. A basic cell biology book is necessary given that most such books are highly technical, detail oriented, and exhaustive in their coverage. The authors write for a general population, using simplified explanations, lay descriptions of research advances, and clear and concise schematics and figures.
Audience: As the authors also of Molecular Biology of the Cell, 5th edition (Garland Science, 2008) (a standard in the field referred to as MBoC), they are preeminent authorities on the subject. However, their self-stated criticism is that MBoC is not an appropriate general resource because it is aimed at advanced undergraduate and graduate students. With this book, the authors tell a less complicated story that, in their view, is suitable for anyone in the general public who is curious about the inner workings of the cell. The authors do a fine job of explaining the basic mechanisms in relation to health and disease. The book succeeds, perhaps beyond the authors' intent, and in fact is an appropriate resource for many undergraduate courses, including ones currently using MBoC.
Features: This book covers nearly every major topic in cell biology that is found in MBoC. Each chapter builds on the previous one, from macromolecules to living cells and tissues. Spectacular microscopy images depict the cell's interior. Special topics like centrifugation or examples of chemical assays help readers understand basic scientific tools. Other special sections, titled "How We Know," describe the Nobel prize-winning discoveries critical to our understanding of cell functions. Each chapter concludes with a list of "Essential Concepts," similar to learning objectives. Questions appear in the margins, such as multiple-choice or short essay, offering readers many opportunities for self-assessment. Because cellular processes are not static, animations representing the dynamic cellular environment are available from a companion website.
Assessment: Students and educators at the undergraduate level should use this book. The writing is straightforward, concise, and so effective that readers can understand basic concepts without referring to the figures. Indeed one wonders that it might make a fine audiobook, a potential few biology books can claim. Educators and students alike will appreciate the complete statements that head each chapter section, which encapsulates a take-home message. The figures are refreshingly clean and straightforward, without the overlabeling or excessive lists typical of many textbooks. Everyday analogies are used to explain difficult concepts. Finally, the book achieves an interdisciplinary tone by including clinical examples, relating what happens at the cellular level to the whole body.