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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: John Song, MD, MPH, MAT (University of Minnesota)
Description: This is a comprehensive overview of different cultural approaches to the practice of medicine. It is notable for the inclusion of many significant and influential oaths and codes of ethics.
Purpose: The editor's intent, clearly stated, is to gather important documents from non-Western traditions as well as selective readings that might shed light on these documents. These are worthy objectives, especially given that, although many volumes exist on cross-cultural ethics, not many bring together original sources such as this volume. This objective of bringing together original sources is an important one, as much of what is taught today comes filtered through the lens of another. And the editor meets this major objective with grace.
Audience: This book is intended for students at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. And it is a wonderful book for this audience. However, I would suggest that anyone, including laypersons as well as healthcare providers could benefit from having this volume. Not only is the content relevant, but the editor has gathered authoritative contributors and sources.
Features: As noted, this is a comprehensive book with various oaths and codes of conduct that might be relevant to the delivery of healthcare. However, more than half of the book is devoted to the Western Judeo-Christian heritage. This ground is covered in other volumes, so it may have been better to exclude it. Instead, a broader coverage of other traditions as well as more commentary on these other heritages may have been more useful.
Assessment: This volume is extremely comprehensive for its size, and the use of primary source materials is crucial. I would love to see an expanded version in the next edition that includes more about other traditions and less of the much-covered Western tradition.