Michael H. Weisman pp. 89 New York: Oxford University Press, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-19-975421-2
Rheumatology textbooks come in various shapes and sizes ranging from the all-encompassing 2-volume, 2000-page door-stops, to this 68-page concise monograph on rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Michael Weisman has experience of both kinds of enterprise, as an editor of one of the major US ‘big books’ – Rheumatology – and author of the current slim volume. My edition opened at the index, where my eye lit on ‘JAK/STAT signalling pathway’, immediately suggesting that the demands of conciseness had not led to either dumbing down or jettisoning recent developments. This impression is borne out by further exploration of the text - tempting as it was to review solely on the basis of the index! The book is indeed contemporary – the chapter on pathogenesis, particularly so – and would serve as a good introduction to aspects of current thinking on RA that readers might then like to explore in other more detailed sources.
The writing is personable and easy going; despite being a basic overview the author has not shied away from including his own clinical experience – for example that arthritis due to hepatitis B or C may not produce an acute phase response. The scope is also commendable, with wider aspects of disease being explored than the usual pathogenesis-clinical picture-treatment summary of many short textbook. Amongst the 13 chapters, space is found for economic effects of RA and the crucial issue of outcome measurements - with the important HAQ-DI included in a glossary.
So who might read this excellently produced book? Anyone who just needs an accessible, up-to-date summary of RA; this would include orthopaedists and family physicians. Likewise, new rheumatology fellows and trainees would find this book an excellent initial ‘guide to the territory’ which they will explore in more detail in due course. Recommended!
J. S. H. Gaston