An unsatisfactory voyage around the human body

General Anatomy: Principles and Applications. Authors Norman Eizenberg, Christopher Briggs, Craig Adams and Gerard Ahern. Edition First. Publisher McGraw-Hill. Pages 258. Price £29.99. ISBN 9780070134140.

May 22, 2008

This is a new venture in teaching anatomy. A whole book of principles sounds like a great idea, as it is an important concept that principles are far more important than details. A first glance through the book shows a mass of small but brightly coloured illustrations with just enough text to explain each. Alas, this book simply has not worked.

We are told that the book is for medical, dental, physiotherapy and health science students. It is a shame that the authors did not add the inquisitive general public to this list, as the level of information and accuracy is so low that the average medical student would gain little from it.

Many illustrations that at first seem bright and breezy on further inspection are seen to have black backgrounds and are so small as to be of little use. Indeed, some are so small as to be totally useless. This applies particularly to the section of cadaveric photographs and all the bones of the body in a 6 x 9cm picture. Others are simply inaccurate and misleading. For instance, the drawing of a man with piles, a male child with a testicular torsion and a depiction of the bladder with the ureter entering at the wrong site are laughable. An illustration of the sympathetic nervous system shows a serious error that will prevent any student from fully understanding this complicated topic.

I hope that the authors will take these and many other comments to heart and in a second edition improve this potentially useful addition to the already enormous amount of teaching material available for the anatomy lecturer.

Who is it for? Not for the medical student who wants a full understanding of the principles of anatomy. But perhaps for others, including the public, who want some insight into the workings of the human body.

Presentation - Changes needed in the next edition. More medical and clinical input is required to improve the accuracy and quality of the illustrations and text.

Any extras? Accompanying the book is a set of excellent CD-Roms. They are interactive and contain a high standard of imaging that many teachers will find helpful in the preparation of lectures.

Would you recommend it? Not recommended at this stage of the book's evolution, particularly as the CD-Roms do not come with the book and are an additional £60.00 each.

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