Classics in Clinical Dermatology with Biographical Sketches, 50th Anniversary
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Book Notes 3 February The following materials were received for review from 1 October to 31 November by Divine, Inc. New York: Elsevier Science; ISBN Order phone New York: McGraw-Hill; Totowa, NJ: Humana; MB Conover. Boston: Kluwer; DL Mann, ed. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Science; Boston: Birkhauser; The authors deserve much credit and gratitude for collecting these historical sketches and presenting them in a polished and informative manner. This textbook can be used by generations to come. Contact author via email: ebalfour hotmail.
A book review has two major purposes: One is to inform readers about the book in order to help them decide whether they should buy and read it. The other is to alert the authors of it to certain flaws or mistakes that may be prevented in a future edition. In regard to Classics in Clinical Dermatology, the first task can be accomplished easily. Anybody vaguely interested in dermatology or diseases of the skin should buy this book.
He or she would be crazy not to do so. Where else could one find a compilation of extracts from original contributions, along with reprints of many original figures, biographical sketches about the authors, and portraits of of them?
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This book is a classic itself, a classic that has long been out of print, and one should hasten to get hold of it. The second task of a review, to alert the authors to certain flaws that might be omitted in a future edition, could be accomplished just as briefly. As pointed out in the preface, it is the first time in history that a second edition of a book is published by the same authors 50 years after the first one. In other words, there will not be a third edition, at least not by the same authors.
Any criticism of the second one, therefore, may seem superfluous. Nevertheless, a classic such as this one deserves to be reviewed in a critical way.
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This implies mention of the most significant flaws. Among them is the subjectivity associated with the selection of original articles included in this volume.
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Subjectivity is an inherent aspect of an endeavor such as this one, and the authors are fully aware of it. Others are trivial. Some readers may find this diversity disturbing, but we point out that this is exactly the mix that appears every day before dermatologists in their offices and clinics. The original articles about the latter entities are readily available, and inclusion of them, rather than many trivial conditions, would have improved the book greatly.
The same is true for manifestations of syphilis that have been struck from consideration. Consideration of syphilis separately may have seemed appropriate in the 19th and mid 20th Century, but in the early 21st Century, it is an anachronism. Solomon, etc.
It is understandable that the authors could not withstand the temptation to include their own articles, but it seems inappropriate that the greatest luminaries in the history of dermatology, including Robert Willan, Ferdinand Hebra, and Joseph Jadassohn, are featured with six contributions each at the most, dismissing many other original contributions of them of great importance, whereas the senior author of this book has included no less than thirteen articles of his own. Another flaw of this work is, at the same time, one of its strengths, namely, that original articles are presented just as they were published, without any comment or qualification.
Such comments, however, would have changed the nature of the book as a concise source of original material and would have expanded it greatly. Here and there, the authors have made some compromise by adding the names under which diseases are known currently to those employed in the original descriptions. Readers who cannot relate the original names to modern terminology may find the book difficult to use. The nature of the book as a concise source of original material also prevented articles from being put in historical perspective.
For example, among the cases described by Louis Duhring as dermatitis herpetiformis in were probably examples of a variety of vesiculobullous diseases, especially bullous pemphigoid. The first account of dermatitis herpetiformis that can be recognized with certainty was by Thomas C. Gilchrest in For reasons of conciseness, such information could not be given but, again, a compromise would have been possible. Unlike the situation in , when the first edition was published, excellent articles are available about the historical background of the description of many diseases included in this book, and a slightly expanded bibliography covering those articles would have been extremely worthwhile.
In the preface, the authors claim that they have brought the first edition up to date.
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This is true only insofar as 55 articles have been added, along with 43 biographical sketches and portraits of all of the authors. The old part of the book, however, has been left virtually untouched. The authors thus failed to share with readers knowledge accumulated in 50 years of study of the history of dermatology. For but a single example, one of the briefest biographical sketches is devoted to Samuel Plumbe, who was among the most important English dermatologists of the early 19th Century.
All those facts are known; in fact, they can be found in the marvelous book co-authored by one of the authors of Classics in Clinical Dermatology, The Dermatology and Syphilology of the Nineteenth Century. One wonders why no attempt has been made to improve the biographical sketches written 50 years ago. Likewise, portraits of nearly all authors of original articles are shown.
In the new part of the book, not a single portrait is missing, but no attempt has been made to close the gaps that existed in the first edition. In the old part of the book, only the portrait of Hugh Hailey has been added, although many others would have been available easily, including those of Camille Gibert, William A.
In regard to the pictures, it must also be noted that they are not as good as in the first edition because of having used, for the second edition, paper of lower quality. In accordance with the title of the book, the focus of the authors is on descriptions of findings clinical. In many other instances, however, those essential passages have been eliminated.
This is not to say that the authors of Classics in Clinical Dermatology have failed; in general, they provide what they promise, namely, classical descriptions of skin diseases clinically. Readers, however, should keep in mind firmly that this is only one part of the story, that there is more to be learned from the original articles, and that reading Classics in Clinical Dermatology cannot substitute for getting those articles if one wishes to study a subject in depth. Classics in Clinical Dermatology is nothing more or less than an appetizer, a book that stimulates interest in skin diseases and the history of dermatology.
In that regard, the book is a success because of its brevity and the unique combination of original material, pictures clinical, biographical sketches, and portraits of authors. Not infrequently, a good appetizer is the best part of the meal. Contact author via email: ww zdpf. The section editor contacted Dr.
Shelley to see whether he, Dr. Crissey, or both, wanted to comment on the reviews: Dr. Shelley responded with the following e-mail message to Mark A. I admire the effort and erudition your two reviewers bestowed on our book, Classics in Clinical Dermatology 2nd edition. I must respond to the two criticisms of the second reviewer [Dr. Our 1st edition from was reprinted in and again now virtually unchanged due to the publishers wish to keep costs down. We did add the photograph of Hugh Hailey which his brother, Howard, out of intense fraternal hatred had denied us in In keeping with the currently popular full disclosure for the reader we should have entitled our book Classics in Clinical Dermatology: 1st Addition.
Why were the dermatopathologists largely in absentia? My dear reviewer, we have been waiting for 50 years for the dermatopathologists to write such a companion volume. Walter B. Shelley, M. Contact author via email: ancampbell mco. I thank Drs. Balfour and Weyers for their comments on this historic work of Drs. Shelley and Crissey. Additionally, I appreciate Dr. I have no specific comments about this work.
I believe the reviewers have addressed all relevant issues.
My only contribution to this discourse has been to find a copy of the first edition of the book; a reproduction of its cover is included above. Mark A. Hurt, M. Contact book review editor via email: markhurt aol. Lost your password?