The Molecules of Life: Physical and Chemical Principles

The Molecules of LifeJohn Kuriyan, Boyana Konforti and David Wemmer

Garland Science, £53.00

This detailed paperback, written for undergraduates, starts with straightforward explanations that may also appeal to enthusiastic pre- university students. Biologists in other disciplines will also welcome the information on chemical structure and the molecular mechanisms in biology. The authors state that the central theme of the book is that "the ways in which proteins, DNA, and RNA work together in a cell are connected intimately to the structure of these biological macromolecules".

The first 235 pages deal in modular form with the biological molecules and end with a list of key concepts and a set of problems. The later major sections on energy and entropy, free energy, molecular interactions, kinetics and catalysis, assembly and activity total 19 chapters – but each chapter is split into bite- sized modules for easier study.

There are coloured illustrations on almost every page. I found myself racing through familiar material and then having to take time to read and understand a point that was new to me, but everything was clearly explained and easy to understand.

Some of the mathematics of thermodynamics and the statistical aspects of entropy and free energy are demanding, but are essential for completeness in a book of this size and scope. It certainly provides a fine reference book for those trying to keep up with the vast amount of new information becoming available in this important area of biological science. I strongly recommend it.

Alan Cadogan CBiol FSB