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Donald Bentley, Carlos Lifschitz, Margaret Lawson. London: Remedica Publishing, 2002, $90.00, pp 495. ISBN 1 901346 43 9
This book, although a paperback, is quite substantial, weighing in at 1.25 kg on my kitchen scales. Its 563 pages include only 315 pages of text and references, the rest being devoted to extensive appendices on normal values and recommended dietary intakes for just about everything, and also the contents of many therapeutic foodstuffs. Furthermore the font size in the text and index (12 lines per 2 inches, compared to 15 in “Nelson”) is rather larger than that usually found in medical texts.
This book covers the major aspects of gastroenterology and includes sections on pancreatic and liver disease; there are also valuable sections on eating disorders and food aversion.
This book is just the job wanting to go a bit beyond the standard texts, such as “Nelson and “Forfar and Arneil” and its fairly large print makes it easy to read for those, such as MRCPCH candidates, reading chapter by chapter, and those of bifocal age, whereas the rather poor index, for which the large font is a disadvantage, does not help its use as a quick reference; there was no mention, for example, of probiotics in the index, yet Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Lactobacillus lactis are mentioned in the treatment of acute diarrhoea and inflammatory bowel disease respectively.
The enormous amount of space (179 pages) devoted to appendices rather unbalances the book for the cursive reader, although the information contained therein could be a godsend for someone needing to prescribe special dietary supplements, or to understand a dietician’s advice, such as a paediatrician with significant numbers of children with gastroenterological disorders.
The discrepancy between its excellent crisp chapters of text and the bulky reference section makes me wonder just at whom this book is targeted; perhaps a clue to this dichotomy is to be found in the page of acknowledgements, where Dr Lifschitz states: “This work is a publication of the US Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) and the Children’s Nutrition Research Centre … It has been funded by the USDA/ARS under cooperative agreement NO. 6250–51000.” That may explain why, despite two of the three authors being from London, the text is in American English: this really isn’t a problem since the differences between diarrhoea and diarrhea and coeliac and celiac are slight.
If the appendices and an improved index could be printed in smaller text, this would be an even better, yet less bulky, book.
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