The Nature of the Chemical Bond was written in language that chemists could understand. Pauling purposely left out almost all mathematics and detailed derivations
of bonds from quantum mechanics, concentrating instead on description and real-world examples. The book was filled with drawings
and diagrams of molecules. It was, considering the breadth of its approach, amazingly readable.
And it was vitally important. In it Pauling had, as Nobel Laureate Max Perutz later said, shown that "chemistry could be understood
rather than being memorized."
The response to its publication was immediate and enthusiastic. A letter Pauling received from a University of Illinois professor
was typical: "I cannot refrain from taking the opportunity to express to you congratulations and my personal appreciation
for one of the finest contributions to chemical literature that I have ever read."
G. N. Lewis, to whom Pauling dedicated the book, wrote him, "I have just returned from a short vacation for which the only
books I took were half a dozen detective stories and your ‘Chemical Bond.’ I found yours the most exciting of the lot."
The book soon became a standard text at most of the nation’s leading universities. It would go through a number of new editions,
be translated into French, Japanese, Russian, German and Spanish, and stay in print for almost three decades. It would become
a Bible for a new generation of chemists and one of the most cited references in the history of science.