Title: Exploring with the Microscope
Author: Werner Nachtigall.
Sterling Publishing Co. 1995.
ISBN 0-8069-0866-1 (hardback)
Price: Around UK15.00 Pounds

Reviewed by Mike Samworth. Nov. 95

Theme and Overview
The sub-title of this book is "A book of discovery and learning" and it is in this context that the aim of the book is to be judged. After the usual Preface page, where the author states his love of microscopy and gives some general advice, the chapters are as follows;

  1. The Microscope
  2. Optics
  3. Illumination
  4. Photomicrography
  5. Drawing and Measuring
  6. The World of Plants
  7. The Animal Kingdom
  8. Inorganic Structures
  9. Aquatic Microorganisms
  10. Appendixes

The first few chapters deal admirably with the types of microscopes and their function. Over-complication is avoided and in general there is great clarity. This is helped by the excellent quality of reproduction, good glossy paper with clean text and clear diagrams.

Another good feature is the illustration of a wide range of modern microscopes, from the cheapest types to those of less modest outlay. This shows what is available and though it could be argued that such can easily be obtained from manufacturers it is, I feel, helpful for beginners to have these to look at whilst reading the book. The author is careful not to denigrate cheaper instruments whilst at the same time advocating how important the optics and their correct use is.

The chapters on illumination and photomicrography contain much common sense and advice of a practical nature. This includes various means of using flash for avoiding vibration and movement for example. Both areas are given quite a thorough treatment for such a type of book and many illumination variants are discussed. Being translated from the German original some terms are a little unfamiliar but this does not usually distract.

The chapter on drawing and measuring makes interesting reading and there are some fine examples of the art of drawing shown.

Subject preparation
The remaining chapters of the book deal with subject material to use the microscope for looking at. This covers subject preparation where appropriate and indeed much practical advice is given for this and projects that readers may like to carry out. The appendixes (the spelling in the book) consist of a short discussion on microscopy with children and adolescents and a list of suppliers throughout Europe.

Images and Artwork
The whole book is profusely illustrated with many colour photographs, diagrams, drawings and a few black and white photographs. Photomicrographs of specimens are nearly all by the author. Some are very good indeed, some are quite awful. However, this does not really distract from what is a beautifully written and presented book, and I think quite worthy of its sub-title, a book of discovery and learning. So, well recommended for children and adults alike and definitely the sort of book that may inspire its readers into a lifelong interest.

Review by: Mike Samworth. Nov. 95

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