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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Raff, MD (University of Washington School of Medicine)
Description: The 11th edition of this book remains a lucid introduction and helpful review of basic human genetic principles and their relevance to clinical medicine. This edition updates the 1998 edition in this rapidly growing and increasingly relevant area of medical science.
Purpose: The authors seek to provide a manageable introductory-level book that is sound in basic human genetics and relevant to medical practice. They also hope to convey the sense of progress that keeps this area of medical science and clinical practice exciting. A chapter on ethical issues is included.
Audience: The book is intended primarily for undergraduate and medical students who need to cover large amounts of material in a finite amount of time. Other audiences, such as practicing clinicians, genetic counselors, and graduate students, are also anticipated. Overall, this book succeeds, as it has in past editions, in providing the elements of medical genetics in an accessible form.
Features: The book is divided into three sections. The first reviews the foundational principles of human genetics — including chapters on nucleic acids, chromosomes, patterns of inheritance, developmental genetics, and population genetics. The remaining two sections apply these principles to human disease. Each chapter is divided into sections and subsections with relevant and comprehensible headings. Throughout are well conceived diagrams, tables, and photographs — all significantly revised from the previous edition. Every chapter concludes with a half-page (or less) recapitulation of the key points ("elements"). This distinguishing feature is particularly helpful for targeted reading and for examination review. A glossary is included at the book's end. The illustrations provide an excellent extension to the descriptions and concepts outlined in the text.
Assessment: Clear and stylistically consistent from beginning to end, the book provides a solid, up-to-date overview of the field. Since its first edition in 1968, Emery's has been in the company of an increasing number of similarly fashioned introductory level textbooks. Publications in the last three years include: Thompson and Thompson Genetics in Medicine, 6th edition, by Nussbaum et al. (W.B. Saunders, 2001); Human Genetics: A Problem-Based Approach, 2nd edition, by Korf (Blackwell Publishing, 2000); Clinical Genetics: A Short Course by Wilson (John Wiley & Sons, 2000); Basic Concepts in Medical Genetics: a Student's Survival Guide by Horwitz (McGraw-Hill, 2000); and Medical Genetics, 2nd edition, by Jorde et al. (Mosby, 1999). Given the adequacy of each of these books, personal preference for a particular style might lead an individual to any one of these books. Emery's is slightly shorter than the average among these and the only one with a comprehensive recapitulation at the end of each chapter (although Jorde et al. has a one to two sentence summary at the end of each subsection in each chapter). In short, this book is one of the better brief books on medical genetics and is amenable to quick reading.