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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 untouched.

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


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