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The Vital Force: A Study of Bioenergetics by Franklin M. Harold - First Edition, First Printing - 1986 - from Uncommon Works, IOBA and

The Vital Force: A Study of Bioenergetics

by Franklin M. Harold

Condition: Fine/none as issued

New York: W.H. Freeman & Company, 1986. First Edition, First Printing. Glossy pictorial cover. Fine/none as issued. A very near fine first edition, first printing. Glossy pictorial boards. Binding is tight, sturdy and square. Only flaw is the previous owner's name neatly stamped on half-title. Text is clean and bright. Illustrated throughout with drawings, photos, charts and graphs. xviii, 577 pp. including index. Octavo, 7 1/2 inches x 9 1/2 inches tall. As an undergraduate, I searched in vain for a book that would expand my knowledge of biochemistry without simultaneously diminishing my enthusiasm for the subject. Subsequently, such books have been written, Watson’s Molecular Biology of the Gene being an outstanding example. Harold’s book is the equivalent for those interested in any aspect of bioenergetics. He points out that “bioenergetics has recently attained a degree of integration comparable to that of molecular genetics”, and that “the principle of energy coupling by ion currents, given a clear and general expression in Mitchell’s chemiosmotic hypothesis, together with the Huxleys’ slidingfilament model of muscle contraction, has provided the possibility of giving a reasonably coherent account of how cells generate useful energy and perform work”. “That is the object of this book” which is “chiefly addressed to students and researchers in biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and cell biology who seek the wider perspective on their particular subject that may come from an appreciation of biological energetics”. I consider that this book has achieved its object. It has done so by way of its content, structure, excellent quality of illustration and, most of all, by the clarity of thought and presentation of its author. On the whole, explanations of experiments and ideas are given more comprehensive treatment than is possible in general textbooks or learned reviews and it is unlikely that a student will need to go elsewhere for a fuller explanation; it is all here, written in a stimulating, lucid style. One (small) exception is the experimental evidence for the Qcycle, where Harold says that “one can intuitively work out how the configuration of a Q-cycle explains the peculiar redox interplay between cytochrome cl and b-566”. Intuition, however, comes from experience of related phenomena (and experiments) and is not a reliable guide when trying to understand bioenergetics and, on the whole, Harold provides a superb text to help us in avoiding it. The lists of references (with titles) at the end of each chapter are excellent, but there is no contents list, which, together with the limited index makes the book inconvenient for rapid reference. A more important flaw is the lack of information about structures. Other texts must be consulted to find the structure of ATP, NAD, FAD, haem, ferredoxin, phospholipids, proteins, etc. There is no doubt that many of the remaining questions of bioenergetics await, for their answer, a better understanding of the relationship between structure and function of the electron transport and proton-translocating proteins. It would be a pity if such matters were to be disclaimed as irrelevant by those whose enthusiasm for bioenergetics is stimulated by this book. ... --- Chris Anthony, FEBS Letters 1987


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