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“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge” says Peter Rea in his foreword to this book. He is quoting Albert Einstein, of course, and also introducing this book with a delightfully pithy and slightly offbeat philosophical snippet. Memorable teachers tend to present not in print, but in the flesh, so you might reasonably wonder where Peter was going with this quote.

I have a personal policy of reading the content of books I review before I look at forewords, prefaces, or blurb. This is to reduce bias, but has the added excitement of reading the opines of others only after forming my own judgement on a book, and discovering whether my musings are in line with those of the great and good. I’m pleased to report that my thoughts on this book correlate significantly with those of Peter Rea. I thoroughly agree that all involved in the care of patients with disorders of the ears, nose or throat should have a copy of this book.

Each chapter is written in the form of a synopsis of a landmark paper on a topic, followed by a critique of that paper. The choice of topics is superb, and I found myself drawn in. There is no superfluous or extraneous content. It’s all essential stuff.

My only criticism of the critiques is the variation in their depth and quality. Some of the selected landmark papers are now outdated, and their popularity lies in the fact that they were ground-breaking at the time, or because little further work has been published on these topics. It was a pleasure to read Walter Kutz’s superb critique of the infamous 1981 paper on endolymphatic sac decompression, and a little disappointing to see Louisa Murdin’s gushing review of a 2001 paper on vestibular migraine which might deserve a more critical analysis. On that note, this book will doubtlessly inspire the astute reader not to simply accept and absorb published studies, but to pursue their own research interests spurred on by the questions left hanging by the authors of these landmark papers.

Was my joy awoken by this book? Most definitely. An added bonus is that it’s an absolute bargain; probably the most value-per-page book available. You can’t afford to be without it. Treat yourself to a copy, and feel the joy.

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Emma Stapleton

Manchester Royal Infirmary, UK.

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