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December 20, 1965


JAMA. 1965;194(12):1316-1317. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090250050016

A gift may indeed be functional or useful, but its essence, its "gifthood," lies in its capacity to give pleasure, in its touch of luxury above and beyond utilitarian value. Books, which come in such varied categories, can make splendid gifts. Some publications may fill a professional need and make a physician more skillful, but these are purely utilitarian functions. Other books may, in casual fashion, entertain him and help him pass a painless leisure hour that otherwise hangs heavy. But the ideal gift book will not only entertain but will enlarge his intellectual horizon and at the same time offer genuine esthetic pleasure.

In this latter category we can place Joseph Wood Krutch's new Herbal, a picture book with expository text. Herbals represent a class of medical texts that has been popular for some 2,000 years. Theophrastus and Dioscorides stressed the importance of plants in medicine and the specific

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