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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Eugene A Davidson, PhD (Georgetown University School of Medicine)
Description: This 27th edition - a new one appears about every three years — provides a terse, relatively comprehensive recounting of biochemistry.
Purpose: The goal of this book is to provide a convenient, distilled compilation of biochemistry suitable for use by medical students. The value of this approach is debatable, but Harper's is well established and, at least, has a reference function. It is not clear if the stated objectives are met; that is likely to vary depending on the individual student.
Audience: The target audience is the medical student taking biochemistry. The editors have assembled an experienced set of contributors.
Features: The editors have assembled a group of authors, all knowledgeable, to cover biochemistry in sufficient depth so as to satisfy the needs of medical students. The 52 chapters are divided into five major sections: structure and function, metabolism, information flow and communication/signaling. Illustrations are clear, tricolor and ample; a short supplementary reading list accompanies each chapter. Coverage is more complete than would be found in slimmed-down versions, but little effort is made to provide the student with priorities in the learning process. There are references to clinical situations but not always in context, somewhat diminishing their impact. Although major revisions are claimed vis-a-vis the prior edition, a great deal of the material is a verbatim repeat. As with the previous edition, a list of useful web sites is appended. This can be considered as an alternative to standard, large format texts but the compact style and lack of guidance will make it a difficult study tool for many students.
Assessment: It is reasonable to question the continuing utility of this book. Little has changed in the text and most students will find more approachable sources — a middle ground between the very comprehensive texts and the distilled versions.