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Book review
A history of luminal gastroenterology in Britain: the inside guide
  1. Peter Cotton
  1. Correspondence to
    Prof Peter Cotton, Digestive Disease Center, Medical University of South Carolina, 25 Courtenay Drive, ART 7100A, MSC 290, Charleston, SC 29425-2900, USA; cottonp{at},

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Peter Down. Published by Watery Books, Dorset. ISBN: 978-0-9572504-0-6

Residing recently in the Sheila Sherlock room in the refurbished accommodations at the William Harvey house at the College of Physicians in London, I was reminded that it was she who first told me (at one of my unsuccessful Consultant interviews) that “Gastroenterologists help people to get square meals through round holes”. I have been at that task ever since, often with an endoscope in hand, as recounted in a recent memoir called The Tunnel at the End of the Light (

I approached Peter Down's majestic history of the British contributions to ‘luminal gastroenterology’ with some trepidation. It is 780 pages long, with almost 1500 references, and looked like seriously heavy going. It is indeed heavy, but it took only a few pages for me to realise that Peter has married serious scholarship with a conversational style that makes easy, indeed enjoyable, reading.

Each of the 76 chapters in the seven sections (oesophagus, stomach and duodenum, small intestine, coeliac disease, IBD, functional bowel disorders and …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.