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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Eugene A Davidson, PhD (Georgetown University School of Medicine)
Description: This is a picture book with explanations — various drugs are shown together with a superficial discussion of their application.
Purpose: The goal is to introduce molecules to the interested student. The hook is the medical utility of the representatives chosen, but the value of this is questionable and it is not clear that the goal is achieved.
Audience: The intended audience is undergraduate students with some passing interest in how drugs might work. Most lay readers could follow the text as well. One of the authors is a world class authority.
Features: This is basically a picture book of commonly used drugs, presenting structural and computer-derived space-filling formulas, divided into classes by their medical applications. In each target, some brief description of possible mode of action is provided. Some of the material is out of date and the choice of drugs seems entirely arbitrary (why lipitor, for example, as the only statin drug?). Statements like "Chemistry can cure disease," while true in some circumstances, are clearly hyperbole. References are provided for each of the compounds. A serious concern is that uninitiated readers (the target audience) will acquire a very superficial and possibly misleading set of facts about one or another commercial product. "A little learning is a dangerous thing," as Alexander Pope notably stated. Physics for poets may have its place, but science deserves better.
Assessment: This effort cannot be recommended since it is overly superficial.