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Pediatric Otolaryngology. Vols 1 and 2. 3rd Ed. Edited by C Bluestone, S Stool, and M Kenna. (Pp1677; £252 hardback.) W B Saunders, 1996. ISBN 0-7216-5246-8 .
The arrival of a new edition of a classic textbook may evoke mixed feelings. There may be excitement associated with the anticipation of perusing a familiar and respected text now ‘even better’ than before. One may be optimistic that improvements have been made in style and layout and that the content has been brought up to date. In contrast anxiety may develop that the edition on one’s own shelf will be rendered obsolete. Will it be worth consulting when there may be some new, cutting-edge treatment described in the new edition? At a stroke the previously prized tome may have been devalued. Should one—must one—buy the new edition?
The resolution of this conundrum rather depends on the nature of the book and the way one hopes to use it. If looking for detailed information on the unchanging aspects of a subject such as, dare I say it, embryology, symptoms, signs, etc a new edition may simply confirm that la plus ça change.... If one is searching for up to the minute references one may be pleased at all the new material cited but disappointed that all references are at least a year old. But if simply looking for a ‘place to start’—a clear statement of accepted practice, details of new and emerging developments, and a comprehensive review of the literature—one is often happy to consider buying a new edition.
Bluestone, Stool, and Kenna bring us the third edition of their classic textbook on paediatric otolaryngology six years after the second. I suspect that most owners of the previous edition will want to replace it with the new. All aspects of paediatric otolaryngological practice are covered, reconfirming it as a major resource in its field and guaranteeing its usefulness in all paediatric and otolaryngological libraries. In the six years since the last edition there have been major advances in the field and the authors have succeeded in including these in the new edition. Coverage of some of the newer areas is a little ‘light’; four and a half pages on cochlear implants seems inappropriate when the same space is given to foreign bodies in the nose. None the less the book is comprehensive.
The authors hope their readers will use the book as a reference source. If they do, they will not be disappointed. Reference lists are up-to-date and the authors have identified in each chapter a short list of particularly useful ‘selected references’ upon which they have provided specific comments.
As with many multiauthor textbooks, this one lacks homogeneity. Nowhere is this more apparant than in the illustrations. A significant proportion are ‘borrowed’ from other publications and standards vary widely. The particularly poor quality of many of the black and white photographs is my only concern but is the only major technical criticism of a book which is otherwise well produced. It is only disappointing that once again the ubiquitous North American shiny paper, so difficult to read under a reading lamp, has been used.
All in all a worthy new edition of a classic text.