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Book reviews The Book Review Editor would be very happy to hear from anyone who would be willing to review books of interest to readers of N e u r o m u s c u l a r D i s o r d e r s .
Oxford Textbook of Medicine 3rd edn. Edited by D.J. Weatherall, J.G.G. Ledingham and D.A. Warrell. Published 1996 by Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-262140-8; 5064 pp. Price £175. Encyclopaedic textbooks have been a feature of western medicine for many years: Osler, Cecil and Loeb, Harrison and now the Oxford Textbook of Medicine, which is by far the largest, in three volumes and over 5000 pages. As one might expect, coverage is exhaustive. Apart from the usual accepted topics, there are excellent sections on molecular and cellular biology and oncology, as well as contributions on medical disorders of pregnancy, psychiatric illness, forensic medicine and sports medicine, terminal illness and ethics. The opening chapter 'On Being a Patient' is salutary in emphasising the need, particularly in this era of scientific medicine, to bear in mind that the patient should never become "... merely an interesting focus of medical attention rather than a person with all those confusions of mind that make him or her an individual." The colour illustrations of clinical phenomena are collected together at the front of each volume. They are of excellent quality and many are of non-Europeans. The editors commendably have aimed for a 'global view of medicine'. Readers of Neuromuscular Disorders will find the sections on Neurology and Disorders of Voluntary Muscle of particular interest, though in some instances the material has already been overtaken by subsequent research findings. In the Preface, the editors make it clear that they are well aware that in such massive textbooks there is always the danger that some of the information may well be out of date even before publication. Computerisation with regular and frequent updating is admittedly the answer and the present text is planned to be available on CD ROM later this year at a cost of £250. Meanwhile this superb compilation 0960-8966/97/$17.00 (© 1997 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved PII S 0 9 6 0 - 8 9 6 6 ( 9 6 ) 0 0 4 0 6 - 3
remains an authoritative work of reference on internal medicine and a useful 'way' to the literature.
Alan E.H. Emery European Neuromuscular Centre The Netherlands PH S0960-8966(96)00406-3
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: Diagnosis and Management for the Clinician Edited by Jerry M. Belsh and Philip L. Schiffman. Published 1996 by Futura Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87993-628-2, 390 pp. This is a well presented book with an easy and consistent writing style. For the clinician already actively managing patients with ALS (motor neuron disease) there is probably little new information. However, for neurologists or more general physicians who are looking for a comprehensive introduction to both the diagnostic process and management possibilities this would be an excellent overview and reference work. I particularly enjoyed the sections on the clinical diagnosis and differential diagnosis, which account for around half of the book, and includes more information on the other neuropathies which may be confused with ALS than normally found in books on the subject. The sections on clinical assessment and electrodiagnostic evaluation are written in a personal style, with hints on how to achieve the correct diagnosis. Although intended for clinicians, it occurred to me that this would be a book to recommend to non-clinical colleagues involved in laboratory research of ALS and related neuromuscular disorders, who are looking for an account of the disease as it affects patients and their families. The book is a multi-author work from the USA, as reflected in the sections on financial matters, health insurance, and also legal and ethical issues. These will be immediately helpful to the USA reader but, although of some interest, may alienate others. The