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The first volume of this book, which was published in 1965 under the auspices of the Harvey Cushing Society, now The American Association of Neurological Surgeons, republished 52 papers of outstanding interest in the history of neurosurgery which had been published before 1940. Those papers which had been originally printed in languages other than English were translated into the English language. Because of demand the first volume was reprinted in 1992.
This second volume of neurosurgical classicsreprints a further 58 papers published since 1940. These papers are divided into 31 groups each of which is preceded by an introduction outling relevant background material and references. Rather curiously, the references for the papers are given in the contents section but are not attached to each individual paper.
A wide range of topics is covered. Thus, in the first section on diagnostic techniques we have the first papers on CT published by Hounsfield and Ambrose in 1973 and the subsequent pioneering papers on MRI published over the next few years. Other topics covered include papers on intracranial pressure, topical haemostatic agents, microneurosurgery, skull base surgery, and the first descriptions of anterior operations for cervical disc disease. The original illustrations are used although in some cases eye covers have been added to the photographs to protect the identity of the patients. This is perhaps a little superfluous as most of the patients concerned have probably been dead for many years as a result of the time that has elapsed since publication and the conditions for which surgery had been carried out. Some of the papers have been shortened and a handful of papers are included from the pre-1940 era going back as far as 1910—for example, Halstead's report of two cases of pituitary tumour operated on by the transphenoidal route.
This book makes fascinating reading. It is hard to believe that there is a neurosurgeon who will not want to possess a copy or having obtained it, will not want to reread some of the articles. It is perhaps a pity that the first volume was not republished as a companion to the present one so that it would have been possible for those of us who do not possess the first volume to purchase both at once. Many, perhaps most, of the papers it contains are of such abiding interest that they are still often quoted in lists of references. To add to its desirability it is beautifully produced and printed and sufficiently well bound to make it a robust bedside book.
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