This venerable manual is a quick source of practical information about the gamut of disease processes and preventive medicine. The book is so well known that probably only first-year students would need an introduction. There are other quick reference manuals of general medicine, but the experience and prestige that the Merck Manual has acquired since the first edition in 1899 have made it the dominant publication in its field. The manual has proved its value for everybody in the health sciences, and it is also used as a standard reference for members of the press, the legal profession, clergymen—in fact by nearly everyone who has an interest in health.
The first copy I owned was the sixth edition, which I bought secondhand, thereby gaining the annotations of the previous owner. It could easily be slipped into my pocket and was my first line of defense as a clinical clerk. In