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Books, Journals, New Media
July 28, 2004

Dermatology, Biography

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(4):508. doi:10.1001/jama.292.4.508-a

What a pleasure it is to hold this book in my hands! Its superb binding and heavy feel promise an enjoyable read. And that is no tease, for this volume is truly one of the classics of the dermatology literature. The first edition has been out of print for many years, so the publication of a second edition 50 years later is an unexpected treat. But let's go back to the beginning.

In the late 1940s, Dr Walter Brown Shelley, a young resident, was overwhelmed with the amount of new information he had to learn about cutaneous diseases. Shelley had a brilliant mind, which would later make him one of the most respected professors in dermatology. With his propensity to "think outside the box," he reasoned that, if all the important dermatologic disorders were new to him, they must have also been new to the pioneers who originally identified them. After all, the discoverer of each disorder had to systematically integrate a series of concepts that both defined the disease and differentiated it from others that were similar. Shelley figured that going back to these original sources would give him a wonderful orientation to the world of dermatology. This unique approach to learning also appealed to Dr John Crissey, who followed Shelley by a few years in his training at the University of Pennsylvania. They painstakingly researched original disease descriptions and biographic information about their authors and published these accounts in 1953 as Classics in Clinical Dermatology, which itself became a classic. Shelley and Crissey have resurrected their famous but long-out-of-print work, updating it with the contributions of modern dermatologists during the last half century. Their gift to us is a veritable highlights of dermatology over the last 200 years.

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