Crash Couse: Pathology

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Summary of review

My previous experience of a pathology textbook was Underwood. It’s just basically a big long ramble. So I was hopeful that the ‘Crash Course’ would cut down on the waffle and get to the point.
I’m not the biggest fan of crash course books. They’re generally ok, not spectacular, and of decreasing usefulness the further up the medical school you progress. This one is particularly well written, but still succumbs to the usual crash course pitfalls.
From first impressions it’s a pretty hefty Crash Course text, weighing in at 402 pages. And it seems a little unusual that crash course have veered away from their traditional systems based approach, into the general field of ‘pathology’. Crash course books tend to lack clinical detail, focussing more on physiology, so I was hopeful this might make a pleasant change. Anyway… into the book we go…
Ah yes, inside the first page we have our ‘Reader Response Card’. Does anybody actually respond to those things?! It might as well say “Please spam me”. Right, sorry, I’ll get onto the book….
All the usual crash course specials are in order. Plenty of diagrams, lots of little top tips in text boxes, and some nice summaries. And, as you would expect, its all divided nicely into systems.
The text itself is really well written, and exactly what you’d expect.  Some of the explanations are great – really simple and succinct. Those wanting t delve a bit deeper into the subject might be disappointed, but afterall it is a ‘Crash Course’!
And, as you’d expect from crash course, it’s easy to dip in and out of the book and just find the section you are looking for. But, once again we’ve hit the major crash course pitfall… no clinical information! In fact, virtually none at all. No ‘Diagnosis’ or ‘Investigations’ and rarely a few cursory sentences on management that wouldn’t stand up to PBL scrutiny. And this massively limits its usefulness for students in clinical years.
If you’re a first or second year and wanting to purchase a pathology textbook, then this is a serious contender up against a more traditional text, such as Underwood. And it’s practically half the price too! Much easier to read, it lacks some of the detail, but will probably be enough to get you through to clinical years.
If you’re already in clinical years, it still makes a nice read, but frustratingly lacks relevant practical and clinical info, so you’ll have to supplement it with something else.
Does exactly what it says on the tin. A crash course in Pathology. Simple and succinct explanations are great for those in lower years, and nobody will have any trouble understanding the topics. For year 1&2 students it’s a viable alternative to a more expensive and extensive text, such as Underwood.  But, like many in the crash course series, if you know the basics this really lacks clinical details, and thus for anyone in clinical years, it’s probably not worth the purchase.



Review by Tom Leach
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