Kirkes' Handbook of Physiology

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    IT is not very many years ago since “Kirke,” as the book before us has been familiarly termed by many generations of students of medicine, had the field all to itself as a physiological handbook. During many years it had no rival; for the “Principles of Physiology” of the late Dr. W. B. Carpenter, although co-existent with it, was far too bulky to be regarded as in any sense a handbook. How different are matters in this respect now ! What with Waller, Starling, McKendrick, Stewart, to say nothing of Foster, of Landois and Stirling, and of even bigger books looming in the distance, the student at the present day can take his choice; which he could not do then, for the only book offered to him in the days we are speaking of was the compilation by Dr. Kirkes, which, unlike most text-books, has been destined long to survive its original author. And an excellent compilation it was, founded upon the best work on physiology of its time, and, as some think, of all time, that by Johannes Müller; written moreover, in a readable manner, so that the attention of the reader was easily maintained, and his interest in the subject never allowed to flag. But, alas ! science is progressive, and a book on physiology may be ever so readable today but will not be read to-morrow, unless means are taken to bring its material “up to Saturday night.” Thereafter comes the inevitable “editing,” which may be all well enough so long as the author can himself undertake the repairs of his own fabric, but which is apt to render that fabric a very patchwork quilt of a book when it consists of the paste and scissors work of inserting a paragraph here and deleting a paragraph there, as was to all appearance the manner of preparing a good many of the round dozen of editions which intervened between the original book and the one we are considering.

    Kirkes' Handbook of Physiology.

    By Prof. W. D. Halliburton Fourteenth edition. Pp. 851. 8vo. (London: John Murray, 1896.)

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    Kirkes' Handbook of Physiology. Nature 55, 244–245 (1897) doi:10.1038/055244a0

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