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April 3, 1972

Just for the Record

JAMA. 1972;220(1):92-93. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200010078014

When I want to pass the time, which is easier to pass than a kidney stone, I turn to a book that helps me immensely. Unlike a novel, it has no plot that would become repetitious on rereading. Unlike some books of nonfiction, it does not tell me more than I want to know about a certain subject. Although the book is presumably nonfiction, some of its incidents seem incredible, and it is full of fascinating characters. It tells only the essentials, in each instance, and then moves on to something else before the reader is sated. I refer to the Guinness Book of World Records.

As you may know, this book began when the people of Guinness, Dublin's famous maker of beer and stout, decided to compile a book of records. It was thought that there was need for "a means for the peaceful settling of arguments about extremes