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This is the first in a new series of specialist handbooks that aims to fill the niche between the comprehensive textbook and the pocket handbook. There are the obvious pitfalls of trying to squeeze in too much detail at the expense of accessibility or reducing the subject to little more than a series of disjointed notes. However, this book—for the most part—steers clear of both of these errors and has produced a very readable, yet reasonably detailed, summary of specialist respiratory medicine. The 31 chapters cover a wide variety of topics and the authors' list is like a “Who's Who?” of UK respiratory medicine.
It is possible to pick up this book, read a chapter in less than half an hour, and come away with an increased knowledge of the pathophysiology of the condition under study and, perhaps more usefully, the intricacies of practical management which is the focus of the book. It will therefore cater to the specialist registrar undergoing higher specialist training in providing a broad understanding in reasonable detail of most facets of respiratory medicine, but it could also be of use to the experienced physician in reaffirming, reminding, and refreshing of the basics, and perhaps updating knowledge with regard to more recent developments.
The book is attractively presented with short paragraphs of text interspersed with helpful tables and figures. For those who are stimulated to seek more information on any subject, each chapter has a selection of references for further reading. Whilst we all might aspire to read, study and inwardly digest a weighty, comprehensive tome of respiratory medicine, for most of us in busy clinical practice this proves difficult. This reviewer would therefore encourage reading and studying this excellent book as an alternative which is more attainable and possibly of more practical relevance.