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Allergy and Allergic Diseases—The New Mechanisms and Therapeutics,
  1. GEORGE RUSSELL, Consultant paediatrician

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    Allergy and Allergic Diseases—The New Mechanisms and Therapeutics,edited by Denburg JA. (Pp 591; US$145, £106.) New Jersey: Humana Press, 1998. ISBN 0 896 03404 6 .

    For many years, it was not entirely respectable in medical circles to admit to an interest in allergy, a view supported by the plethora of quasi scientific approaches to the identification of allergies, and reinforced by the apparent lack of success of so many interventions designed to prevent or treat allergy. However, allergy is gradually losing its shady reputation and in recent years scientific understanding of the subject has progressed by leaps and bounds. This information has not, however, been particularly accessible to jobbing clinicians, and Denburg’s intention in producing this book is to highlight the interface between basic and clinical science.

    This is not a book for the clinician seeking to update himself on allergy practice. Although it does cover the pathogenesis of the major allergic disorders, and concludes with a section on treatment, these chapters focus on the underlying science rather than clinical practicalities, and it is fair to say that the book is biased towards basic rather than clinical science.

    The first thing I did on receiving the book was to look up a few favourite topics in the index; peanut allergy was nowhere to be found, nor were urticaria, eczema or even asthma. After a few further thwarted attempts to find topics of interest, I realised that the book had been bound with the wrong index—apparently from a treatise on pain—the man at the pulping machine at Humana Press is no doubt at this very moment filling in his overtime claim!

    The index is the only thing wrong with this book. Once that problem is sorted out it will be of interest to clinicians dealing with allergic disorders, and seeking a comprehensive review of the cellular and molecular basis of allergic inflammation. Given the complexity of the subject, it is a remarkably easy book to read. Each chapter is freestanding and copiously illustrated, providing a comprehensive review of a single topic. Readability is enhanced by editorial acceptance that overlaps are inevitable, which in the case of my indexless copy was just as well. Speaking of which, I never did find anything about peanut allergy, but all the other topics were covered.

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