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M G Gelder, Jaun Lopez-Ibor Jr, Nancy C Andreasen, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003, pp 2432, £125.00. ISBN 0-19-852810-8
The New Oxford textbook is the latest and largest from the Oxford textbook of psychiatry’s stable. The book was originally published in 2000 and has recently appeared in paperback. This is the best modern British textbook of psychiatry. It is over 2000 pages long and comes in two stout volumes. The international editorship is led by Michael Gelder, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford, with Spanish (Jaun Lopez-Ibor) and American (Nancy Andreasen) co-editors. The book is inevitably based on a myriad of individual contributions although the choice of contributor and standard of editing is exemplary.
The first volume covers general issues and the scientific basis of psychiatry, including a number of reviews of neurobiology. Interestingly, psychodynamic contributions have a separate section. The remainder of the first volume is taken up with coverage of the clinical syndromes of adult psychiatry, including substantial coverage of dementia.
The second volume includes review of special topics with a number of articles on aspects of the psychiatry and medical conditions. This includes a useful chapter on neurological disease by Maria Ron, and on epilepsy by Brian Toone. The remaining part of the second volume addresses the psychiatric subspecialties as well as having a substantial section on psychiatric treatments, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological.
This text is my personal first choice when I encounter a problem in the clinic that I want to look up—and I am rarely disappointed by what it says. This is a Rolls Royce of a textbook. There is a tendency to think of books as large as this one (particularly at a price of £125 even for the paperback) as suitable only for libraries. This would be a mistake. Despite its size and price this book’s accessibility and comprehensiveness should make it the first choice as a postgraduate handbook, not only for psychiatrists but for neurologists and neurosurgeons too.