GOOD NEWS! Since this "new" 5th edition is exactly the same as the eight month older last edition, the 4th edition is now an incredible bargain! Get a copy before they are sold out. The 4th edition may be the BEST biochemistry class and USMLE review book ever. After you use it in your medical school biochemistry class, just review the highlighted sections and the charts, etc. for the Step 1 and you'll ACE the biochemistry part of the exam. Also, this book helps integrate biochemistry with other subjects, such as physio, pharm, cell-bio, etc., helping to make multi-disciplinary concepts and mechanisms more clear.
Yes, everyone knows that Lippincott Illustrated Reviews (LIR) Biochemistry 4th edition deserves 5 stars. However, LIR Biochemistry 4th edition, with a new cover on it that says 5th edition, deserves only "1" star (and I wish I had the option of giving it "0" stars).
I'm sure most of you are familiar with amazon's feature, "Click to Look Inside", which is listed right above the picture of the book. When I clicked on this feature for this 5th edition, I was surprised to find that the table of contents was EXACTLY the same as the 4th edition. I'm not talking only about the content or titles of the chapters, which you'd expect to be the same, I mean both editions showed the same number of pages in each chapter, the same number of pages in the index, and the same number of total pages for the entire book, and every sample page was exactly the same in both editions. I concluded that this must be a mistake by amazon, since occasionally they'll show the pictures and text from the previous edition (although they will usually, but not always, state that the sample pages shown are from a previous edition). So, I went ahead and placed my order.
After receiving the book, I compared it page by page with the 4th edition, and there was NOTHING new in it from a content standpoint. In the brief Book Description it says, "Thoroughly updated for its Fifth Edition..." and "New features include expanded coverage of molecular biology". These claims are simply not true. I mean really, think about it. How can a "new" edition that comes out eight months after the previous edition be "Thoroughly updated", and how can there be "New features including expanded coverage of molecular biology" in a book that is a virtual page-by-page duplicate of that same previous edition?
Here are some specifics. A few of the blue clinical boxes have been moved around, there are a few paragraph condensations, a few words have been added and a few subtracted, but nothing meaningful. This example says it all, (and there are others just like it). On one page in the 4th edition, it says "pyruvate dehydrogenase". On the same page in the 5th edition, it says "pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH)", with only the acronym added after the word. While I can understand that when using acronyms, one might want to add the full name for clarification, but the other way around? These newly added acronyms are also unnecessary because these same acronyms are already mentioned several times on the same pages in the text. Once again, these books are virtual duplicates of each other.
How could this happen, you ask? Please read on. In case you are not aware, Pamela C. Champe, biochemistry professor emeritus and the original author of this book, recently passed away. This sad occurrence happened on the eve of her latest publication, Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews Physiology, which I had been so looking forward to. Now unfortunately, according to LWW, they have no idea if this book will ever be released.
Dr. Champe, the iconic creator of the Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews (LIR) Series, and the original author of this book, recruited Richard A. Harvey as her co-author for the Biochemistry Review, and then later as her co-editor for the entire LIR Series of books. Well, as soon she passed away, Richard "Tricky Dick" Harvey couldn't get a new edition out fast enough, especially one without Dr. Champe's name on the cover, even though she was the original solo author of this book. It appears that Harvey just made a few minor changes to the book, threw a new cover on it, and had it published as a new edition as fast as he possibly could. This way, all proceeds now go to Richard Harvey, and no proceeds will go to the Champe estate, but more importantly, no credit will go to the original author of this book. How creepy. Can you imagine if the title of the classic Robbins Pathology had been immediately changed to the name of one of the co-authors after the demise of Dr. Stanley Robbins? Why not honor Dr. Champe by adding a nice memorial preface describing her role as the visionary creator of both this book and the entire LIR series, and why not change the title to "Champe's Biochemistry"?
Actually, there is a way to both acknowledge Dr. Champe's incredible contributions and reward yourself financially at the same time. Now that this so-called 5th edition has been released, you can pick up the 4th edition at a reasonable price. I saw a used, like-new copy on amazon for the amazing price of $4.00!
There are THREE reasons why buying the 4th edition instead of this 5th edition is the better way to go: (1)It is now priced very low, and the content is identical to the 5th Edition. (2)Virtually ALL of the other-subject Lippincott Illustrated Reviews (LIR) are cross-referenced to the 4th Ed, and NOT to the 5th Ed, a very important consideration for subject integration. (3)And finally, since her name is on the cover, you will have the "Pamela C. Champe Memorial Edition", although sadly, it was never officially named as such.
Thanks for your time, and Good Luck with your studies!
UPDATE: I've received a few "not-helpfuls" for this review. I wonder if it was the so-called new author? Was that you "Tricky Dick", with some grad students or family members helping out perhaps? Hahaha! Seriously though, you can verify the accuracy of this review for yourself by ordering the 5th edition from amazon and comparing it to the 4th edition; you will see that both editions are virtually identical. Remember, you have 30-days to return the 5th edition to amazon and get your $58.00 back. Cheers!
UPDATE #2: This is from a response to a comment (see below), but I'm adding it here as well because of its importance:
Both editions have exactly the same number of pages (520), as well as the same content. However, in the Amazon listing, the "Product Details" section of the 4th edition says "528 pages", and in the same section for the 5th edition it says "544 pages". The information in these "Product Details" sections for BOTH book listings on Amazon is incorrect. I have a copy of both editions, so I know for sure that they both have 520 pages. There is a way, however, that you can see this for yourself before you buy, if you don't want to just take my word for it. To verify for yourself: Go to the top left of the page for each edition, and click on the "Click to Look Inside" option. On the menu to the left, select "Index" and then go the last page of the Index section. You will see that page 520 is the last page in both editions. In the 5th edition index, page 520 has half "Index" and half "Figure Sources" on it. In the 4th edition, page 419 is the last page of the Index, and page 520 is the Figure Sources.
This is very peculiar indeed, since this simple information is easily verifiable. Could this be an intentional misrepresentation by LWW? Could these data have been sent to Amazon by LWW to imply that there must be revisions in the 5th edition if there are more pages? What else would a trusting student infer? The plot thickens...
Lippincott's Illustrated Review Biochemistry 5th Edition
Lippincott's Illustrated Review Biochemistry 4th Edition