In Part 1 of this book the syntheses of benz[a]anthracenes are covered from the middle 1930s to the end of 1984. Prior to the middle 1930s almost all of the references are to quinones of possible use as dyestuff intermediates and are not covered here. Early syntheses were reviewed by Cook (1931). The synthetic procedures of interest in early studies of the carcinogenic activity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were reviewed by Fieser (1937). The present state of the synthetic approaches to benz[a]anthracenes is organized into several different categories. Advantages and difficulties in various synthetic routes are pointed out. Often the poor yields in certain steps should be capable of improvement by the use of alternate reagents and methods. Since many of the older methods have not been restudied, it is left to the reader to decide the best course of action in any chosen case.
The syntheses of arene oxides, dihydrodiols, quinones, phenols and diphenols in the benz[a]anthracene series will not be covered in depth and the reader is referred to the monograph Polycyclic Hydrocarbons and Carcinogenesis by Harvey (1985), which addresses these topics more fully.
In Part 2 the biological properties of benz[a]anthracene and its substituted derivatives (such as the highly active 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene) are discussed in relation to literature available up to the end of 1985.