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The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 17th Edition (Centennial Edition) – Review by Kenneth Ellman

Why do so few people own and use this book?

This book has been a classic and a mirror on medical knowledge
since its first publication in 1899. By studying the various
editions of the very many years it has been in existance, you obtain a look into the past and evolution of human knowledge.
The publication is regularly issued and is now in its 17th edition.

As the very many other reviews have stated it is an incomparable work for its small overall dimensions containing over 2832 pages in an easy to carry design and format. The paper is of high quality, very thin and long lasting capable of withstanding much abuse.

The breadth of the subject matter contained therein is beyond the reach of most other medical books except perhaps the excellent medical text entitled “Wilderness Medicine” authored by Auerbach. However the extremely well done full size Auerbach publication is not something you would carry while the Merck Manual is just for that type of instant reference, easy carry availability.
While the Merck Manual is not and does not pretend to discuss surgery in any depth nor teach any surgical procedures it certainly indicates when surgery is a treatment and does discuss various surgical therapy. An example is Hydrocephalus where within a short space accurate and useful discussion is imparted as to etiology and surgical remedies.
This book also contains excellent chapters on Pharmacodynamics and Clinical Pharmacology. This is unusual in a general medical text. There are very few medical conditions not addressed in this publication.
I do not understand why in the United States the Merck Manual is not found on the desk of most physicians. Perhaps its extraordinary overall scope is not as useful as more targeted texts to the specialty practiced. Certainly specialized publications, which Merck is not, are the method to conduct in depth research but to have in such a simple one volume format a fully comprehensive general medical text is a pleasure to possess and use.
Every medical practitioner should own one. For those who love well done books, it makes wonderful recreational reading as does the Auerbach Wilderness Medicine. Another book to keep nearby is DeGowin and Degowin’s “Bedside Diagnostic Examination” which easily fits in a coat pocket.
Kenneth Ellman