When the second edition of a text is published, it
indicates that the first edition was a success and both
the publisher and the editor wish it to continue. That
is the case with Dr. Martin Makary’s General
Surgery Review. Even more importantly it means
the readers thought it useful and of value. The book
was successful because the information that it transmitted
is done so in the Socratic fashion, which is so familiar
and comfortable for surgeons, and is presented in a
clear and concise fashion, so retention is high. This
text clearly is not a substitute for one of the larger
comprehensive general surgical text books. Such textbooks,
however, in recent years have been relegated to reference
texts. Surgeons who are reviewing to take in-training
examinations, board examinations, or recertifying, want
access to information that is presented in such a fashion
that retention is high, time is spent efficiently, and
it is an enjoyable learning experience. The large general
surgical textbooks have small print, are comprehensive,
are detailed, and are not appropriate for such reviews.
If someone wants to research a disease process, the
general surgical texts are excellent. For most other
learning experiences, however they remain on the shelf
The second edition of General Surgery Review
has been expanded, and contains more chapters and authors.
Many of these authors are young surgeons, some academic
surgeons and some out in practice. Many are still in
training. They have had recent experience taking in-training
examinations and their surgical boards, and are familiar
with the material that is important in taking such examinations.
They are also familiar with the study techniques and
habits that allow one to prepare for such examinations.
New chapters have been added, including chapters that
emphasize basic science topics such as a cell biology,
cytokines, immunology, etc that are necessary information
for the current practicing modern surgeon. Surgeons
have always found that diagrams and illustrations help
speed the learning process and improve retention. Dr.
Makary has increased the number of these visual aids
in the 2nd edition, and I think the reader will find
that most helpful.
Many textbooks only go through one edition. Even though
editors and contributors may spend hours preparing important
and detailed information for the reader, if it proves
not to be of value to the surgical house officer, or
practicing or academic surgeon, it will not find a market.
This textbook uses a format that I think lends itself
to the efficient, effective and rapid transmittal of
information that the surgeon finds particularly helpful
in reviewing surgical topics. This textbook will not
be a source of primary information for most readers.
It is my belief that most surgeons who use this text,
will have a broad foundation in the diagnosis and management
of a spectrum of surgical diseases. What they are looking
for is a review, to make current information that was
learned in the past. This book is an excellent vehicle
for such renewal of learning. I suspect I may be writing
forwards for many more editions in the future.
John L. Cameron, M.D.
The Alfred Blalock Distinguished Service Professor
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine