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By Donald Armstrong and Jonathan Cohen. Pp 2000; £250 (two volumes). London: Mosby, 1999. ISBN 0723 423288.
The most striking first impression of these two volumes is the lavish production with marvellous illustrations, photographs, and tables. It has many excellent features. The text is well set out and easy on the eye. The experience of the authors in approaching various diseases and clinical syndromes comes through strongly. The sections comprehensively cover infectious disease from basic science to clinical management. The clinical microbiology section is an important anchor and could be a short textbook in itself. I very much enjoyed the numerous practice points, which are oriented towards clinicians faced with funding solutions to problems. These consist of short essays with tables or illustrations and tackle particular clinical problems such as “the diagnosis of HIV in newborns,” “what is the treatment of a positive toxoplasma titre in pregnancy?” or are in a debating style—for example, “how long should osteomyelitis be treated?”
Each section is colour coded and although the American numbering system takes a few minutes to get used to one can easily navigate around the book. The contributors are all internationally famous in their fields and, with so many of them, I am quite impressed by how up to date the book is. They must have been chased hard to get their contribution in on time. One of the few criticism would be that there could have been more on hepatitis C and its interaction with HIV.
However, if you can't find what you want in this book, there is a comprehensive list of websites, which are of interest to infectious disease and other physicians. There is a free CD ROM which creates a direct internet link to these sites. The other important resource is a slide library, which comes on the same CD ROM. In all, 1500 tables and clinical and other photographs are stored and can be made up into personalised presentations; these can then be used as a teaching resource via computer generated images. The high quality of these images will impress anyone involved in producing material for teaching. However, it is a shame some of the useful tables have not made it from the text to the CD ROM.
Although this book is expensive, I would recommend it to anyone interested in infectious diseases especially those who have to teach at any level, undergraduate or postgraduate.
With the rise of the internet the big textbook might soon be heading for extinction. Thankfully this book delays the time when I will be downloading information from the super highway rather than turning over the pages of a well produced book. If I need to use my computer there is always that free CD ROM..……