Monday, July 4, 2016
TREASURED OLD TEXTBOOKS
I was sitting in my porch (American version of a verandah) enjoying my morning coffee, and happened to glance at the bottom of the nearby bookshelf. I saw several old textbooks that have survived my many moves and transitions and thought that I should compare notes with my friends to see if they have saved any, and whether there were special reasons for hanging onto them. Here is my list:
1) Anatomy, Regional and Applied by R.J. Last (Second Edition). This was first published in1954 and the second edition in 1959. I treasure this book for many reasons. I love the illustrations done by RJL himself, and found this book very useful during my career as a pathologist. This is one of the books that my father bought for me when I entered Medical College. Sadly, he died suddenly just two weeks after I started my medical education.
2) Cunningham's Manual of Practical Anatomy (Upper Limb and Lower Limb), revised by James Couper Brash (Twelfth Edition). I couldn't bring all the volumes to the U.S., so I just brought this one along to remind me of my hard work in the anatomy lab, where I spent almost the entire first week reflecting just about two inches of the cadaver's skin. Talk about culture shock, I came from an all female school to a cavernous room filled with cadavers exuding formalin! (This book was also one that my father bought for me.)
3) Hutchinson's Clinical Methods, by Donald Hunter and R.R. Bomford (Fourteenth Edition). I referred to this book many times over the years even though I stopped seeing patients after arriving in the U.S. The photographs were very useful when friends and relatives approached me with weird rashes and swellings! The photos depicted clinical signs, which are no longer prevalent in the developed countries. According to the Preface, Sir Robert Hutchinson wrote the greater part of the book at the age of twenty-five, when he was a resident at Great Ormond Street. The remainder was written by Dr. Harry Rainy, University Tutor in Clinical Medicine at Edinburgh. It was first published in 1897.
4) A Short Practice of Surgery by Bailey and Love (Twelfth Edition). I did not have the heart to toss out this gem because of the extensive illustrations and photographs (again!) A few years ago when I was reading "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese, I found out that the author had based one of the main characters on Hamilton Bailey: A surgeon who was missing a finger, just like Hamilton Bailey. Verghese, in the introduction, wrote that there was a photograph of Hamilton Bailey's hand in the textbook. I lost no time in looking for that photograph in the book, but was disappointed because it had been edited out in the twelfth edition, which was the one I owned.
When I retired from my full time position in pathology, I began giving away most of my pathology reference textbooks to younger colleagues. There is one that I have kept, mostly for sentimental reasons. It is "Gastrointestinal Pathology" by ParakramaChandrasoma, who was about five years junior to us in Medical College and is now a Professor of Pathology at the University of Southern California. It is one of the best texts on the subject, with outstanding microphotographs. He was my neighbor when my siblings and I were all very young and lived down 5th Lane, and was a playmate of my brothers. He attended the "other" school, Royal College! One of these days I think I will give the book away to one of my pathologist friends, because it is too good to sit idle on my shelf.