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Sir James Frazier wrote about temples sacred to Dionysus that were occupied by a single runaway slave. He ate the offerings, copulated with ceremonial virgins, and generally had a fine time until he was killed by his successor, who inherited the temple. The authors of "standard" texts must enjoy their prestige in a similar manner, nervously eyeing the competition, knowing that time inevitably will render their classic obsolete. And yet, after 15 editions in English and 13 in other languages, we have Hamilton Bailey's Demonstrations of Physical Signs in Clinical Surgery. It is still the standard text. The current editor, Allan Clain, has wisely changed very little.
Why is it the standard? Mostly because of superior writing, informed footnotes, clear photographs, good index, and near encyclopedic contents. Granted, the subject is relatively stable, but the writing is sure and brief. How could you condense or improve these sentences? "Two black
Zehner H. Hamilton Bailey's Demonstrations of Physical Signs in Clinical Surgery. Arch Surg. 1974;108(5):750. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1974.01350290112026