Oxford Handbook of Tropical Medicine. Eddlestone M et al. 3rd edn. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-920409-0
42 contributors. 22 chapters. 843 pages
This small textbook has been recommended by the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine as an essential core text for those studying towards the Part 1 Fellowship exam. There is good reason for this recommendation. This small, easily portable volume provides a comprehensive and authoritative guide to this area of clinical medicine. Its contents go well beyond the inner circle of tropical infectious diseases, envenomations and nutritional disorders to include tropical paediatrics, mental health, multisystem diseases and covers topics relevant to other areas of general medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology.
Guidance is practical and details of drug administration and other key aspects of acute patient management are plentiful.
This is the third edition, and contains a series of updates to the previous editions including new material on non-infective conditions such as heat stroke and altitude sickness. There is quite a bit of integration through cross-referencing and supplementary coverage in other chapters. For instance, the well-crafted chapter on Malaria (Ch 2) might have the last word on the infection, but there is also a well-made reminder about malaria in the chapter on multi-system infections (Ch 18: p668). Indexes can serve this function if you have the time to be methodical, but any busy clinician will tell you that pressure of work will rarely allow you that luxury. Well thought out contents and information layout are at the heart of a useful clinical handbook. As always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in this case the Oxford Handbook stays on my desk, close to the phone. It gets used most days; more often than the authoritative Manson’s Tropical Diseases.
But no textbook is perfect. If I were asked to make any recommendations for the fourth edition I’d bring the contents list forward. Page ix buries the all-important contents between acknowledgements and a list of colour plates. Unfortunately the grey page markers do not line up with the contents list on p ix or the back cover. But these are cosmetic criticisms. The heart of this book is made of gold.