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Instant answers—from pocket books to reduced, handy text— this is the theme of our times. Nothing captures this zeitgeist better than the success of the Penguin 60s or in medicine the proliferation of summary or concise texts. These books are exceedingly difficult to do well and require a distinct approach to that of writing a conventional textbook All too often a summary or concise text is a poorly edited version of a larger tome.
A model example of what a concise specialist book should look like in style and content is provided by David Perkin, inMosby's Color Atlas and Text of Neurology. This book uses an imaginative combination of illustrations, colour coded boxes which highlight “the take home points”, and bullet pointed narrative to deliver a very readable book. Part of the success of the book is the focus on common conditions with a sufficient nod to minutiae within each field. The emphasis on common and treatable is evident throughout with appropriate weighting on risk factors and diagnostic criteria where relevant. Tables and colour illustrations are skilfully deployed around the page—an obvious point perhaps, but not always done—to complement the text and emphasise the important.
Inevitably a book such as this will not please the purist. This in many ways underscores the very success of the book—notably, to provide a broad overview of neurology suitable for both the undergraduate and MRCP candidate. It is testament to the skill of the author that such a goal is achieved in a deceptively easy to follow and, therefore, easy to remember style. A claim not made by the author—but one that I would venture is that the book would also be valuable to the junior specialist resistrar, and to those that teach Neurology.
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