20th edition 2 volume edition (published 2015)
Kliegman, Stanton, St Geme and Schor
Published by Elsevier
Despite the fact this is a 2 volume set; each one is a substantial and heavy volume which reflects the huge depth of information and wealth of material which is available to the user. The word textbook can be overused but this is what I would call a proper textbook. There are 3473 pages between the 2 volumes and a 129 page index and gives some idea of the huge physical substance of this book.
Without doubt, this excellent 2 volume set is aimed at a paediatrician and is probably too detailed for a primary care professional such as a GP. In saying that, if someone like a GP wanted a detailed and seemingly comprehensive text and a one stop reference shop, then this could easily fit the bill. It is obvious from the title that this is a North American work with the vast majority of the numerous contributors coming from the United States. Despite the huge number of contributing authors, the behind the scenes editing has been very successful in creating a seamless transition to clear and uniform text. Talking of text, this book is primarily text driven with huge amounts of information provided by the written word. There is also plenty of colour, images and tables to neatly and helpfully break up the text. There is a good balance between text based information and illustrations and figures etc. For me this is ideal for this kind of textbook and that is another reason why I call this a proper textbook and a trusted reference source.
The range of subject matter as would be expected from a resource of this size is simply huge. There are topics I would never have even thought of. Although there is clearly an American bias in the subject matter, this is truly a textbook for the global community. Despite its depth and scholarly coverage, it is very readable and often I would dip in and read around a topic simply for interest. I surprised myself by finding the rarities (and something I was unlikely to come across in my personal practice more than once or twice) interesting and thought provoking. Equally the more common topics were just as interesting, a tribute to the hard work put in by the editors and contributors. As a general paediatric reference, this is superb and for what you get, it is excellent value for money.
Since this is part of Elsevier’s ExpertConsult offering, bundled with the price of the book is access to an electronic version on the web and an app for the mobile device. A book of this size with two large volumes is certainly not portable but having access to a digital edition is a huge boon. The app version works best when the whole contents of the book are downloaded to the mobile device such as a phone or tablet. This means fast searching and no need for an Internet connection once downloaded but a lot of disc space is needed for the download. Considering the size of the two volumes, the whole download is a reasonable 1GB. That may not be reasonable if you don’t have the spare space on your device. The web version available via an Internet enabled browser follows the same style as other members of the ExpertConsult family and is easy to use.
All in all, this is an excellent and detailed paediatric review textbook which represents excellent value for money. Now in a mature 20th edition and up to date, it is an excellent resource which offers print and digital access all bundled within the purchase price.
Dr Harry Brown