Intended for healthcare professionals

Medicine And Books


BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 26 November 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1451
  1. Robert M Bernstein

    Ed John H Klippel, Paul A Dieppe Mosby, £195, pp various ISBN 0-397-44731-0

    Ancient Rome kept the populace tractable with bread and bloody games; then for new Rome bread and wine embodied the opium of the people. Now it is with health care that governments struggle to assuage the masses, and we doctors are the priests and priestesses of this paganism.

    Medieval monks laboured to illuminate the holy word in huge bibles chained to the pulpit and interpreted for the people by priests. Today's great books are enshrined in medical libraries: the textbooks with which we establish and celebrate the beliefs, rituals, and potency of our cults and specialties.

    Rheumatology is such a bible, in colour, in monumental size and weight. There are 1760 pages, weighing 7 kg and offering a total academic area of 130 m2. This surface is richly illuminated with specially commissioned diagrams and clinical photographs. Gold leaf and lapis lazuli were adornments of a previous faith, but there is enough here on gold injections and the blues of chronic illness. Almost all the teaching is set forth, from the daily bread of clinical practice to the enigmas of autoimmunity in the blood.

    There are important messages here for physicians, orthopaedic surgeons, general practitioners, physiotherapists, and medical students. Of first importance, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease …

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