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The sale of cookery books is now one of the most active and lucrative areas of publishing. The purchasers of such books, which are usually lavishly illustrated and always expensive, are apparently almost all already expert cooks who buy the books not so much to employ the recipes but as light and enjoyable bedside reading. A recent subcategory are the books providing a “travel guide” to regional cuisine—for example, Thai Regional Cookery. In the realm of medical publishing, the equivalent niche is occupied by theOperative Surgical Guide which, like the cookery book, sets down in usually lavishly illustrated form various surgical approaches, the equivalent of the “travel guide” cookery book being in this case the particular surgical “Region” which is the subject of the book. This type of medical niche publishing is at its most active in the surgery of the skull base, - perhaps the surgical equivalent of “Thai Regional Cookery”.
This book is the latest in a number of such texts published within the past five years or so. Like the cookery book, its appeal is not so much to the tyro but to the already established expert in the field who will buy and enjoy the book largely for its excellent presentation and lavish illustrations. They may even find the occasional “recipe” helpful. However, for the trainee neurosurgeon the value of the book is less certain. Like the tyro cook, he may become the victim of overambition and may be seduced into tackling procedures which are better left to those who are already expert in skull base surgery. Although the book is well written, with a good range of chapter topics and excellently illustrated, it deals with difficult and complex surgery often in brief and rather superficially written chapters. The book undoubtedly deserves a place in the specialist ear, nose, and throat or neurosurgical library but for the individual trainee—at whom the book is no doubt targeted—it might be wise for it to have carried a health warning : “use only sparingly and after considerable preliminary training”.
The cost of the volume may be rather too high for the limited market it is aimed at. As a manual for “how to do it”, Fisch’s bookMicrosurgery of the Skull Base would perhaps represent a better buy.