Quinine mythology | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 18 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: April 30, 2007

Quinine mythology

Department: Letters

Jeffrey Seeman's article in Angewante Chemie that was profiled in C&EN is filled with history but does not resolve the quinine saga (C&EN, Feb. 26, page 47). Missing from the review are the publication standards of 1918. Were "preliminary notice" articles typically followed with detailed accounts or were they left unresolved in pursuit of other research interests?

If the latter is not the case, isn't it is odd that Paul Rabe would abandon a detailed quinine article to publish alternate cinchona alkaloid chemistry 14 years later and reference only his 1918 work? The scientific community would hardly question one of its elder statesmen on the lack of experimental details in 1918. Even Robert B. Woodward noted the lack of experimental detail, but he apparently did not question Rabe (as graduate student Gilbert Stork questioned him).

It is clear that chemists will forever debate "Three Steps to Quinine: Fact or Myth."

Anthony Levorse
Union Beach, N.J.

Chemical & Engineering News
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