Description: This is the second edition of an encyclopedic, comprehensive text of coloproctology first published in 1993. Despite its monumental size, it remains almost entirely written by the two editors.
Purpose: This book is clearly intended to be a primary reference work for the field. The editors have not been selective, but have tried to review "all the available evidence" on each subject. The text is conversational in style, and easy to read. It is well organized into 74 chapters with detailed coverage of difficult problems such as incontinence, chronic constipation, and megacolon. Much information is included that is primarily of historical interest, in addition to up-to-date descriptions and illustrations of surgical procedures. Each chapter is followed by a long, comprehensive list of references.
Audience: This book should appeal to a wide audience. Students and trainees will appreciate the breadth and depth of the content. General surgeons will find much to learn from the editors' experience, as will specialists in the field.
Features: The sheer volume of information is remarkable. It must be read carefully, however. The editors do not always clearly differentiate current practices from outmoded ones, and reserve their recommendations for the end of the chapter. Readers will also note that the practices described are from the U.K. and do not always reflect U.S. practices. I found myself disagreeing with their practices and recommendations on many small points as a result.
Assessment: Libraries and specialists will want to have this encyclopedic reference on their shelves. Students and residents will want to use it for reference. General surgeons looking for specific recommendations may find briefer texts, such as Beck & Wexner's Fundamentals of Anorectal Surgery (W.B. Saunders 1998) handier for quick reference.