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Morson and Dawson’s Gastrointestinal Pathology, 4th edn
  1. N A Wright

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Edited by D W Day, J R Jass, A B Price, et al. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2003, £175.00, pp 692. ISBN 0-632-04204-4

Why do people buy s book such as this, which involves a not inconsiderable financial outlay (even if you box clever and make it tax deductible)? I think for two main reasons—firstly, for use as a bench book, and secondly, for information on the pathological basis of gastrointestinal disease for interest, teaching, or indeed research purposes.

On the first criterion, this book succeeds, usually quite brilliantly. As a vade mecum on gastrointestinal pathology it should be on the shelf of every pathologist who engages in the reporting of such material. In my view, the book is more user friendly than the competition—Fenoglio-Preiser and Goldman to name but two—and is certainly more readable. I would therefore extol its virtues unreservedly in this respect.

On the second criterion, as a source book, I suppose the correct word is patchy. Some sections, for example that on colorectal tumours, is admirable in this respect, whereas other sections are more limited in scope and even cursory in their treatment of the pathobiology. There is also the problem of the unavoidable intrinsic delay in producing such a book, resulting in reference lists which are some years away from the publication date. I am aware however that my personal outlook is not that of most individuals who will purchase this volume so I am probably being over critical. It is, after all, quintessentially a bench book, and excellent at that.

However, I do have one real beef. In any multiauthor work there is bound to be variation, but here we are not told which one of the stellar caste were responsible for which section or chapter. Of course we can make informed guesses about the Barrett’s or colorectal carcinoma sections, but who did the GIST bit? Because of some (minor) errors in the criteria for the diagnosis of malignancy, I have tried to berate a number of authors who have all denied responsibility, and blamed someone else—usually the author(s) absent at the time. Not good enough.

I have to concede however that the authors have succeeded in producing perhaps the text in gastrointestinal pathology, which is a credit to both themselves and the discipline in the UK. I congratulate them.

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