Fima Lifshitz, editor CLINICAL DISORDERS IN PEDIATRIC GASTROENTEROLOGY AND NUTRITION New York: Marcel Dekker, - 1980, 488 pp., $44.50
Surprisingly, although much of this volume is based on a continuing medical education course held in April 1978, it remains current and useful in 19Sl. However, as is usual with texts hurriedly put together following such courses, the editing is superficial and the text falls short of integration into a unified whole. The titles and chapter subdivisions listed in the Table of Contents promise a more comprehensive and organized presentation than ultimately emerges.
Nevertheless, a number of chapters are clearly valuable for the practicing physician and some fulfill the needs even of physicians with a special interest in the gastrointestinal tract. Chapters on chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, surgical management of inflammatory bowel disease and biliary atresia, bacterial diarrhea, carbohydrate intolerance, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, among others, are noteworthy.
On the other hand, excellent teachers and investigators tend sometimes to put out less than their best in these compendia. For example, John Watkins, who is certainly capable of a first class review of his assigned topic. Digestion and Absorption in the Newborn, largely neglects much that is implied by the title and has chosen instead to deal only with fat absorption and bile acid metabolism. Although he has done some fine original work and is expert in both areas, they are presented, despite their o bvious relationship, more as two disjointed topics rather than in a coordinated way. If one capable of truly scholarly work lets us down somewhat, a few others come off even less well.
Among the picayune comments, we note that Drs. Aiges and Wapnir, in their article on Pathophysiology in the Neonate, refer to the "Complete Pediatrician" by Wilbur Davidson. The correct tille of the famous old text is "The Compleat Pediatrician" and its renowned author was Wilburt C. Davison. (Although one of us appreciates the implication of possible relationship, our names are spelled differently). Similarly, Cyrus Rubin is referred to as the inventor of the Rubén tube by Drs. Daum and Aiges in another chapter. Unfortunately, Dr. Lifshitz has himself cited one of these reviewers (M. D.). On checking the quote it is out of context. These are not isolated examples of superficial editorial supervision.
The entire alphabetical index of quoted authors appears to represent a good deal of unnecessary effort which might have been better spent on more meaningful editorial aspects. It is sort of useless, except as a sales gimmick directed at those people who look to see if they have been quoted and, therefore, might want to buy the book.
In spite of these minor criticisms, as pointed out above, once the text is accepted as a series of disjointed presentations, a number of the articles will prove useful to the student of gastrointestinal and nutritional disorders in children. Overall, at $44.50, the contents of the total of 488 pages seems like a reasonably good value at today's book prices.