August 15, 1980

Modern Legal Medicine, Psychiatry, and Forensic Science

Author Affiliations

Emory University Atlanta


by William J. Curran, A. Louis McGarry, and Charles S. Petty, 1,310 pp, 393 illus, $79.50, Philadelphia, FA Davis Co, 1980.

JAMA. 1980;244(7):715. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310070063038

This is a large book, ambitious in its aim to be "the first comprehensive, single-volume work covering the entire field of legal medicine and the allied forensic sciences." Fifty-six contributors, several with national reputations, have collaborated to cover an unusually wide range of subjects, even for this type of text—so wide, in fact, that despite its length (1,300 pages), the book is less than comprehensive. Frequently anecdotal, several chapters seem aimed at entertaining the lay reader rather than professionals and lack depth, detail, and documentation.

A limited number of black-and-white photographs, including portraits of the authors (a welcome but repetitive personal touch), have been included but lack the clarity of the original slides. The captions often presuppose expertise for proper interpretation. Occasional diagrams, offered as elementary examples of "forms" or isolated illustrations of various tests are included, although it is not clear for whom.

It is doubtful that anyone would