Crystallography textbooks tend to have long shelf lives, so the announcement of a ‘second completely updated edition’ of Werner Massa’s book, within a few years of the first, was a slight surprise. However, the rapid advance in crystallographic techniques in recent years – in large part fuelled by the development of solid-state detector systems –has catapulted this allegedly ‘dusty’ subject into the forefront of high-tech science. It is to Professor Massa’s credit that he has sought to keep up with many of these advances, devoting much of his book to current techniques. Whether or not this counts as a completely...

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