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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Dewey K. Ziegler, MD (University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: This remarkable book was finished in his ninety-seventh year by Macdonald Critchley, one of the greatest of the twentieth century neurologists, with the collaboration of his wife. It is, for the most part, an informal summary of Jackson's contributions to neurological subjects and evaluation of these contributions by scholars both of his time and later, but it also includes a personal biography. The authors modestly present this work as a "tribute to one whose work was based solely on his clinical observation, scrupulous recording, and astute judgment." The principal author inherited the tradition of British neurology directly, and is eminently qualified to comment on Jackson's work.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a biography of a famous neurologist, a brief critical summary of his major writings, and their legacy.
Audience: Physicians specializing in neurology and psychiatry, particularly those interested in the history of these specialties are the intended audience.
Features: The book begins with chapters on Jackson's family background, his life as a medical student, and his early professional activities, and later contains chapters concerning his personal life during years of maturity. The major part of the book consists of chapters summarizing Jackson's writings in the many areas to which he made several contributions. These include the epilepsies, the cerebellum and the disorders of language formulation, and the aphasias. Two particularly interesting chapters present the controversies generated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by Jackson's theories concerning aphasia. The contrast in the concepts of impaired language formulation by several of the nineteenth-century neurologists (e.g. Broca and Marie), is discussed in a particularly lively fashion. A concluding chapter consists of tributes to Jackson, notably those given at a dinner on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Jackson's birth, an occasion at which the author was in attendance! This comparatively brief book is both biography and summary of a life work and does not pretend to be encyclopedic in the discussion of the various areas to which Jackson contributed.
Assessment: This is one of the very few full length studies of this important figure. A comparable one is that of Lassek, The Unique Legacy of John Hughlings Jackson. This book differs in that it includes a biography and has an engaging, informal style.