February 20, 1987

Cecil Essentials of Medicine

Author Affiliations

Jefferson Medical College Philadelphia

Jefferson Medical College Philadelphia


edited by Thomas E. Andreoli et al, 831 pp, 250 illus, $34.95, Philadelphia, WB Saunders Co, 1986.

JAMA. 1987;257(7):986. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390070106040

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Most modern textbooks of medicine have several onerous attributes: they are heavy and expensive, they overwhelm the reader with information, and their contents are often ephemeral. Their ephemeral nature, stemming from rapid changes in medical knowledge, is beyond an author's control. The other three burdensome attributes are rendered tolerable by Andreoli and his associates in Cecil Essentials of Medicine.

Other authors have written synopses of medicine in attempts to surmount the burden of the usual textbook, but synopses are inadequate. A synopsis tells us what the subject is about and marshals the facts, but, unlike Essentials, it does not facilitate understanding. Complete understanding is an individual accomplishment that can be enhanced, but not replaced, by a textbook. Nevertheless, the student needs a guide to provide facts and, more importantly, fundamental ideas that lead to understanding. The authors of Essentials have done this in about half the space of most standard