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Tsokos GC, ed. (£113.50.) Humana Press, 2000. ISBN 0 89603 773 8
When I initially looked through this book my first thoughts were “am I the right person to be reviewing this book?”, at least in part because I have not bought a book of this kind since I was a PhD student. I have, however, bought a large rheumatology textbook since that time, but this is characterised by the scientific chapters using lots of large multicoloured pictures and covering the science in relatively simple terms.
This book covers a broad range of topics. It is set out in a very logical way, with the first two chapters covering areas of basic science and cellular immunology relevant to rheumatic disorders, and the final two chapters bringing these features together in relation to specific rheumatic conditions, and then moving on to treatment.
The quality of each chapter is extremely high. They are written by many of the leaders in the fields and are extremely concise and beautifully written. I particularly liked the chapters on apoptosis and adhesion and co-stimulation. It is perhaps no coincidence that these are some of the chapters with the most illustrations. If this book had been written in 2001 rather than 2000 I am sure there would have been a chapter on chemokines and their receptors.
I think that it is this that has created the uncertainty in my mind on two counts. This book is ostensibly aimed towards providing a better understanding of molecular and cellular aspects of rheumatic diseases, particularly geared to rheumatology clinicians in training. I suspect, however, that one of the good quality, highly illustrated, undergraduate texts is likely to be of greater benefit to this stated audience.
Where I could see a book like this being of great use is for somebody in the early stages of a PhD, wanting rapidly to gain a grasp of the field, but who already has some basic knowledge (this is precisely the sort of book I bought all those years ago during my PhD). There is no doubt that this is a superbly constructed and written book, but I think it is much more of a reference book for those wanting a detailed review of the subject than a bedtime read for those with a passing interest.