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Surgery of the Colon and Rectum. Nicholls J, Dozios R R, eds. (Pp 1300; £185.00.) Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1997. ISBN 0-443-05565-3.
This latest volume on colorectal disease represents an attempt to bridge the Atlantic gap by bringing together the expertise of authors from both sides of the water, emphasising this by appointing distinguished joint editors from the UK and the USA. The publishers thereby have attempted to widen their potential audience. The place of such a textbook needs to be defined with the knowledge that within the American and the UK markets there are already two respected volumes covering the same subject. The publishers obviously still feel that there is a continuing market for such a text book in a world where the potential purchaser is becoming increasingly computer literate.
Some of the problems with multi-author textbooks include presentation and repetition. I think there is a contrast between the UK and the American style in writing and the American flavour in clinical practice is particularly evident in the chapter on the consulting room set-up and the range of procedures done, with suggestions that the expensive flexible sigmoidoscope will replace the much cheaper and more easily available rigid sigmoidoscope. Repetition may not be such a problem if any approach is from a different angle but—for example, in chapters 5 and 10 there is much repetition and in the chapter on haemorrhoids, perianal haematoma appears on both pages 214 and 230 with much overlapping content. There is also a repeat discussion on pages 352 and 371 on the adenoma-carcinoma sequence. Better editing is required for the next edition.
The authors have attempted a very wide coverage of their subject while at the same time publishing in one volume. This has produced a heavy volume to hold while reading and at the same time in order to accommodate all the data the print type is small and not easy to read for any period of time.
Having initially perhaps been rather negative this is a very comprehensive book with the included chapters having been written by a number of eminent contributors and I have no doubt that it will stand healthily alongside its competitors. I would suggest that this book will find its role as an excellent reference book rather than perhaps being a volume that students of coloproctology, be they undergraduates, potential postgraduates or consultants, will read as their initial introduction to the subject.
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