Student Testimonials

I have reproduced these testimonials from emails sent to me by students. They are unsolicited and unedited. You can find more short, informal student reviews of The Art of Writing Reasonable Organic Reaction Mechanisms at and

I have just finished my first year of graduate studies in organic chemistry at Duke University. I just wanted to let you know how much your book got me through the past year of course work. We, like everyone else, use Carey and Sundberg for our advanced organic classes. I personally do not care much for those books and therefore seek better explanation/understanding through other texts such as Lowry an Richardson and Carrol. When it came to mechanisms, I found the clarity and thoroughness I needed only in your book. It was impressive how you were able to present so much information in a clear and comprehensive manner yet keep the book so managable [sic] in size.

In addition to the text, I also was able to benefit from the problems. I was sure I had the answer for more than a couple but I was way off on some of them! Great practice!! The on-line answers are much better than looking up answers by reference as in Carey and Sundberg. The JOC and JACS journals in our library from 1960s-1980s are a wreck because every year 20 or so first year grad students go tearing off through the journals looking up answers.

Just wanted to say thanks for such a helpful book. I am reading it again this summer in preparation for my preliminary exam next Spring.

I am an undergraduate at Purdue University. Earlier today, I picked up a copy of your book at Follet's. I am currently enrolled in a graduate course here on advanced organic chem. The main focus has been the physical nature of reactions and their mechanisms. We have assigned readings from Lowry & Richardson, Carey & Sundberg, March, and Scudder. I hate all of these books because they aren't quite user-friendly. Your remarks in the preface hit the mark. Anyhow, I just finished sophomore organic at Harvard under G. Whitesides & D. Evans, over the summer. I just wanted to thank you for making my previous efforts in organic seem worthwhile, and providing me with the excitement to continue on to advanced synthetic chemistry. The book is an absolute marvel as far as I am considered. No worthless info, and no removal of pertinent information. Like the bear said, "This porridge is just right."

I am an undergrad chemistry major at Northwestern University and I recently finished reading your book "The Art of Writing Reasonable Organic Reaction Mechanisms." I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I found it to be both lucid and informative, a combination so rarely found in chemistry texts. I also found your discussion of pericyclic mechanisms quite useful as well, especially since other texts seem to fall short of concise explanations. Thanks again for the "mechanism-enlightenment."

I am a first year grad student at UCLA. In the organic division, we have a class affectionately known as "cume prep" that meets once a week, and this quarter we have been working through your book The Art of Writing Reasonable Organic Reaction Mechanisms. Although we are not required to read all of the chapters and work all of the accompanying problems, I have found it beneficial to complete the reading and work at least a substantial number of the end-of-the-chapter questions. Of course, it's an added bonus when particular topics from your book show up in our synthesis course.

I want to say that reading your book has given me added insight into reactions and mechanisms that are often glossed over or never even touched upon in class.

I'm a pharmacy student at the Friedrich-Alexander Univ. Erlangen Germany. The next semester will be the 5th for me. There we must know the syntheses of about 50 organic structures as famous drugs as Aspirin or Paracetamol and so on. Recently I found your new book "The Art of Writing Reasonable Organic Reaction Mechanisms" for the first time on the German bookshops and I was so glad to find such a book. Congratulations! In fact I'm suffering from our system in Germany because we, as students, haven't the possibility to discuss important reaction mechanisms with our profs and most of the German books are written in a literary way and still don't qualify a student to be independent and try to analyse by himself why something is reacting this way and not the other. Even if I try to analyse a reaction I'm still not sure if my answer is the right one. Most of our profs are busy with their research and really don't care about the students but on the other side we don't have so high University costs as the States!! Anyway your book is exactly what I wished to find since long time.

I am David Peralta, a Master's student and lecturer at the Department of Chemistry in the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. I am writing in admiration (and gratitude) for your book, "The Art of Writing Reasonable Organic Reaction Mechanisms" (2nd Ed.). You see, I have just finished taking my Organic comprehensive exam last Tuesday and (even though I still had a difficult time with the exam) I am ecstatic that I passed. As I have always considered organic mechanisms my Waterloo in Org-Chem, I have found your book and methods of great help. The explanations were very clear and all ideas were excellently presented. The excercises [sic] with the online answers were helpful in preparing too. I'd gladly recommend the book to anyone preparing for similar exams or even those who just want to brush up on mechanisms.

Again, thanks for the great book. A lot of chemistry students (undergraduate and graduate) at our University are already finding your book really helpful.

I purchased the 2nd edition of your book, 'The Art of Writing Reasonable Organic Reaction Mechanism' in June 2006 when I was in graduate school at the University of Alberta, Canada. I was either too lazy or too busy to read it then. I failed all the cumulative examinations that I took because I just couldn't write a reasonable organic mechanism. I got frustrated, discouraged and lost my self-confident. My inability to pass the cumulative exams on time made me decide to get Master's degree, which I got in January, 2008.

Working in the industry was too slow and less busy for me so I decided to read your book to keep busy. I have not been able to let go of the book since the day I opened it in June of this year (2008). I carry it in work bag always. Your thorough, clear, simple style of teaching is remarkable and it's the best I have ever seen. Your book has inspired me and rebuilt my love and self-confidence in synthetic organic chemistry. In fact, I have told everyone I know doing organic chemistry about your book.

Two months into reading your book, I decided to leave the industry and return to graduate school to complete my Ph.D. I will be starting my Ph.D at the University of Toronto in May 2009.

I just want to say, Thank you for finding time to write a great book that is helping many of us to rediscover our dreams and academic visions.

Thank you and May God bless you for the good work.