David Semple and Roger Smyth
Published JULY 2019 by Oxford University Press
This is another brilliant addition to the excellent Oxford Handbook series which seems to go from strength to strength. This is a very chunky handbook and in fact is really a fully blown textbook encased in a handbook size and runs to a chunky 1148 pages including the index. Even so the dimensions remain the same as other books in the Oxford Handbook stable, although it is much thicker than many.
Big books or in this case big handbooks don’t necessarily mean that this is a good book. However, I would say this is an outstanding book that seems to cover a huge amount of territory in an educational and informative style. As would be expected in an Oxford Handbook, it is written in a practical fashion and very clinically focussed with the aim of the book to help the reader to manage a patient. Generally speaking, Oxford Handbooks are excellent but I would place this book one notch up and call it superb. From a primary care perspective, this could easily act as a single volume textbook and I am sure that psychiatric healthcare professionals would also find this book helpful. This book would also be welcomed in urgent care and emergency departments and would make a very good initial reference source.
It covers its subject matter in considerable depth and detail which makes it more than a handbook. Even more impressive, there are only 2 named authors which is a notable feat although in the acknowledgements, they have had assistance from a number of colleagues.
There are good sections on child and adolescent psychiatry and old age psychiatry with good coverage of all age groups in between. It is also good to see sections on forensic and liaison psychiatry as well as a section on legal issues. Chapter 5 on schizophrenia and related psychoses is particularly good. Like all good medical textbooks, this book can be used as a reference source or for general reading and learning more about the topic.
It would be a shame to criticise this outstanding book but if you wanted perfection then I would have appreciated an app version of the book to be bundled with the price. I personally would be prepared to pay more for this facility. However, to counter this minor criticism, this book represents superb value for money. This book is highly recommended as a general textbook of psychiatry which is presented as a handbook but it is clearly more than that. Despite its handbook dimensions, this is an outstanding single volume of psychiatry which comes at a keen price.
Dr Harry Brown September 2019