THE BOOK SHELF
Andr~ Lascari, Editor
Book reviews Advances in pediatrics, Vol 27 L. A. Barness, editor, Chicago, 1980, T h e Year Book Medical Publishers, Inc. pp 407. A p p r o x i m a t e l y $43.00. This volume, like many which result from the efforts of severat authors, is uneven in quality. The inequalities are best exemplified by the marked differences in usefulness and clarity among the several articles. The preface might have us believe otherwise, but such is not the case. Grammatical errors are common. Some of the articles are less than review articles and more like original communications. Perhaps this mixture is intentional. The chapters address the following topics: polypharmacy and poisons, recurrent abdominal pain, the spleen in immunity, transfer factor, vitamin D and renal disease by Chan and Hsu, anaerobic bacteria, gastroenteritis and the rotavirus by Hodes, inappropriate ADH secretion, umbilical artery catheterization. necrotizing enterocolitis, phototherapy, and prolactin cycling. The article by Drs. Chan and Hsu is the best in the book. In an area that has seemed to defy understanding, they have offered clarity of thought reflected in good writing, along with logical conclusions. Any review article that Will do all of these things is rare. The section by Dr. Hodes is also worth mention, particularly for the historical and personal perspectives presented therein. Other chapters are good and useful. At least one seems to adhere to what some have called the "endless litany" school of review articles. In such articles, which are easy to find, the author lists a large number of observations. Without critical comments, interpretation, opinions on clinical application, attempts at perspective, or even tentative conclusions, such litanies have little value to those who most need the information. Readers will wish to select critically among the offerings. SeveraI are worth careful study.
Robert E. Merrill, M.D.
Traumatic abuse and neglect of children at home Edited by Gertrude J. Williams a n d J o h n Money, Baltimore, i980, J o h n s H o p k i n s University Press, 616 pp. $30.00. The most important function of a collection of readings is informing a relatively large potential audience about new perspectives and research conclusions. This collection of 50 articles, both contemporary and historical, addresses a vexing social and medical problem. Self-consciously diverse, the articles run the
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gamut from theoretical perspectives to research findings and strategies for therapeutic intervention. After a brief discussion of definitional problems which con~ front those working with victims of abuse and neglect, the book is divided into eight major sections to "form a logical framework within which to conceptualize this fragmented subject." The extent to which the subject matter is fragmented greatly represents the editors' approach to the accumulation of papers, rather than the field itself, In their words, "in addition to an extensive literature search, the editors solicited papers in various professional publications in order to obtain manuscripts from little known sources and unpublished manuscripts covering the most recent investigations." As is often the case with collections of papers originating from diverse sources, the individual contributions vary markedly in quality and sophistication. This contributes to an almost carnival-like atmosphere in the first section. Although the editors undoubtedly want to sensitize the reader to a full range of issues, their initial treatment seems more appropriate for the sensationalism of a current newspaper account than a scholarly anthology.
See New books received, p. 306. Williams and Money try to go further than other edited compilations on child abuse. They make a concerted effort to include papers concerning a full range of issues including characteristics of abusive parents, characteristics of victims, responses to abuse and neglect, and treatment issues. They deliberately attempt to include papers dealing with often ignored topics, such as the effects of abuse on personality and emotional behavior, as well as on growth. The book's most controversial section has to do with sexual abuse and incest. Money's introduction to this section raises several issues concerning normal sexuality and ventures so far as to suggest that sexual "neglect" of children "may be as significant as sexual abuse." One could argue with the selection of topics, as there are other important issues that could have been addressed. Nevertheless, the book is neither the best nor the worst of the genre. Its provocative nature may stimulate needed critical thought.
Daniel B. Kessler, M.D. (Pediatrics) Robert Hampton, Ph.D. (Sociology) Fellows Family Violence Training Program Children's Hospital Medical Center Boston, MA