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Nature is nowhere accustomed more openly to display her secret mysteries than in cases where she shows traces of her workings apart from the beaten path; nor is there any better way to advance the proper practice of medicine than to give our minds to the discovery of the usual law of nature, by careful investigation of cases of rarer forms of disease. For it has been found in almost all things, that what they contain of useful or of applicable, is hardly perceived unless we are deprived of them, or they become deranged in some way.
This excerpt from a 1657 letter by William Harvey begins the preface to the second edition of Skandalakis and Gray's massive achievement, Embryology for Surgeons, and sums up the approach of the book.
This quote from a more humanistic age is especially appropriate because the authors, while admirably meeting their declared first edition
Jacob SW. Embryology for Surgeons: The Embryological Basis for the Treatment of Congenital Anomalies. JAMA. 1995;273(10):823-824. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520340079045