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August 14, 1996

Ackerman's Resolving Quandaries in Dermatology, Pathology, and Dermatopathology

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Ohio Toledo

JAMA. 1996;276(6):503-504. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540060079042

As a clinician rather than dermatopathologist, I found it difficult to review this book. It is vintage Ackerman—a man many regard as the world-class pathologist of the skin—written in a dogmatic, condescending, colorful style. The aim appears to be to tear down the existing system of dermpath nomenclature, "dermatopathobabel," developed higgledy-piggledy over the past century, which consists of "muddled ideas that have become established but have yet to be elucidated." Whether you agree with him or not, you will find this an interesting book. "This work is about ideas," in which "concepts were allowed to play freely, undistracted by clinical photographs and photomicrographs."

The format is unique, as the book is developed around the Socratic method, with trainees in dermatology and dermatopathology posing questions to Dr Ackerman about "niggling problems that seemed to defy comprehension." His answers on 100 subjects are "not conventional; readers will decide whether [they are] edifying."