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The libraries of Cambridge Colleges contain many treasures. Among the particular treasures to be found in Peterhouse College is a first edition of the Anatomical Engravings of Vesalius. This exquisite volume combines practical instruction with wonderful aesthetic pleasure in a manner that has long gone from our more pedestrian age. Although aesthetic pleasure is largely absent from our modern manuals of practical instruction, nevertheless such manuals still have a place in the training and instruction of the young surgeon. This volume will undoubtedly prove useful in that respect and indeed to some degree it follows directly in the tradition of Vesalius. It represents the distillation of a lifetime's work of Dr Segar from Freiburg and is truly a monumental volume. It is beautifully illustrated and a pleasure to handle. The labelling is clear and the diagrams are for the most part elegantly coloured, easy to follow, and stylishly executed. For a modern instruction manual it comes surprisingly close to the aesthetic tradition exemplified by the Vesalius.
However, all manuals of surgical anatomy have the common characteristics that they portray the normal anatomy, but as every surgeon soon learns, in the vast majority of their cases the normal appearances have been distorted or obliterated by the pathology which has caused the need for the surgery in the first place. However, surgeons must also know what things ought to look like even when they are not visible when he first starts out upon his surgery. This volume illustrates the differing anatomical appearances to be encountered in various neurosurgical approaches and this methodology is particularly likely to be helpful for the junior trainee. It is therefore an ideal book for the departmental library, but I fear may prove too costly for the average surgical trainee. The Cambridge Colleges have traditionally chained their more valuable volumes to prevent their disappearance and I suspect this volume may require an equivalent degree of supervision to prevent it disappearing into the eager registrar's personal bookcase.
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