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Edited by G Douglas Campbell Jr and D Keith Payne (pp 315 plus index and colour plates; $95) 2001. Haggerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0 7817 3436 3
This book aims to cover an enormous subject, and the editors have done very well to contain it to a little over 300 pages. Its 26 chapters are grouped into six sections, the lion's share being occupied by respiratory topics, with critical care being limited to the relatively short final section. The atlas format is certainly stylish and on the whole achieves the editors' aim—that is, of helping busy clinicians and students of chest disease absorb a large amount of information in a relatively short amount of time.
Despite the numerous contributors, the book's layout is uniform and very accessible; text is limited and punchy and extensive use has been made of diagrams, flow charts, and tables to supplement the generally good quality photographic images. The grouping of the colour plates to the final pages of the book, to contain printing costs, is a little distracting but a justifiable compromise.
All of the material is up to date and well referenced, though tends to some extent to be dominated by North American sources and opinion. I found the chapters dealing with lung cancer, bronchiolitis obliterans and other bronchiolar airway disorders, and sarcoidosis to be particularly useful and excellent sources of a large and diverse amount of information. In contrast the chapter dealing with interstitial lung disease was to me a little disappointing. The chapters covering sleep disorders, HIV and fungal infections, lower respiratory tract infections, and nutrition are new to this edition and are welcome additions. The use of graded evidence based recommendations for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions is variable between chapters and its more consistent application would add further to this book's already considerable value.
I am sure this atlas will have broad appeal to both undergraduate and postgraduate students of chest medicine as well as busy practitioners. It would be a valuable aid to those preparing for postgraduate exams as well as to specialist registrars in respiratory medicine, who I'm sure would find it a very useful source throughout their trainee years. Intensivists and trainees in critical care will, I expect, find the balance towards respiratory medicine less appealing. It has few competitors in terms of its breadth and clarity and it represents good value for money; in short it deserves a place in all good medical libraries.
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