Medicine And Books


BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 29 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1147
  1. Alex Paton

    The current fashion for blockbuster biographies brings out the worst in authors. Sue Ebury's 700 page Weary: The Life of Sir Edward Dunlop (Viking, pounds sterling20, ISBN 0 670 847607) is a sprawling, lacklustre affair which could be cut by a third. Better to read the extraordinary diary “Weary” (Dunlop=tyre=tired) kept as a prisoner of war on the Burma-Siam railway, published by Penguin.

    The aim of Assessing Elderly People in Hospital and Community Care edited by Ian Philp of Southampton (Farrand, pounds sterling14.95, ISBN 1 85083 034 7) is to pick the best instruments for assessing physical and psychological disability, social functioning, and carer burden. Such standardisation will benefit not only individuals but also data gathering, audit, and service provision.

    Just how much can be done in improving environmental factors is apparent in The Primary Prevention of Rheumatic Diseases (Parthenon, pounds sterling40, ISBN 1 85070 366 3), a multiauthor text of over 350 pages. Adequate treatment of infections and accidents; attention to work practices and sport; and changes in personal habits, such as diet, smoking, and drinking, would all have benefits. But the enigma of preventing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis remains.

    The second edition of A Bibliography of Biomedical Biography by Leslie Morton and Robert Moore (Scolar, pounds sterling65, ISBN 0 85967 981 0) has been expanded to include foreign language material. The result is that nearly 2400 people are now included. This is a remarkable achievement, and a must for medical historians.

    Seventeen years' work by the World Health Organisation has been consolidated and updated in Nuclear Power and Health (WHO Europe, Sw fr 26, ISBN 92 890 1315 X). Much concerned with technical matters like safety, risks, prevention—especially in the case of accidents—and protection of workers, it has relatively little to say about the current debate on possible exposure to radiation of local populations.

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