This book was a pleasant surprise in almost every respect. I found it a gentle, clear exposition of material that can be hugely complicated. The text works upwards from amino acids, the building blocks, through the interactions of shape and chemical affinity, to views of proteins in action. By the time they appear, muscle fibers and virus capsules follow naturally from the discussion. This gives simple, concise descriptions of how proteins' shape emerge from its sequence. It goes on to describe protein control of DNA, to explain virus and muscle structure, and to hint at modern drug design.
'Protein Structure' requires some background in organic chemistry and in the ideas of molecular genetics. For example, you should already be familiar with steric hindrance and with the idea of regulatory regions in DNA. Branden and Tooze reward the prepared reader with a well-considered series of discussions. These include enzyme action, photosynthesis, virus self-assembly, muscle fibers, DNA binding, and more. I had never seen an actual chain of chemical events that turn light into usable chemical energy. This book stepped through it (for a bacterium, at least) in just few paragraphs and drawings. But the whole book is like that - it sustains a remarkable density of information, always in a very readable style.
The text is laid out in a simple and appealing way, and is profusely illustrated. The illustration is one of this book's wonderful strengths. Almost all of the discussion is carried in diagrams as well as in words, and the authors freely use as many different diagrams as needed to make each idea understandable. The illustration style is simple and consistent; most drawings use one of three or four conventions for describing proteins. Almost all of the illustrations seem to be hand-drawn with colored pencil. Still, the corpus of illsutrations is among the most communicative I have seen in any book. Artists aspiring to illustrate science (or to communicate any idea) should read Tufte, then treat this book as a uniquely successful case study.
My only complaint about this book had to do with the quality of its printing. A few pages in my copy have bad register, colors are not consistent from page to page, and the one major photograph is weirdly over-sharpened. I must also admit that I do not need a deep knowledge of protein structure and function - I scanned the book quickly, and read only parts with care. The book repaid that effort richly, and I expect that it will reward more careful readers even more. I'm not a biochemist, but I strongly recommend 'Protein Structure' to anyone at all interested in the topic.