The physician's manual, that compendium of clinical information, pharmacological data, and laboratory techniques, belongs to no discipline but its own. The species is an inventive one, for new varieties constantly evolve, each attempting to survive in some part of the medical environment as yet unoccupied by one of its fellows. The hardiness of a few of these organisms is attested by the many editions through which they have passed.
In competition with standard reference texts, these little volumes possess distinct advantages. Their small size is appealing and the low price permits purchase of the latest edition without serious pain. The breadth and depth of coverage seemingly offered through the use of telegraphic style and numerous tables may give the reader a satisfying sense of having acquired definitive knowledge. Yet brevity here makes oversimplification inevitable.
Some of these works, the perennial Merck Manual,1 for example, provide a remarkable mass of