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Gersen SL, Keagle MB, eds. ($79.50.) Humana Press, 1999. ISBN 0 89603 533 0.
This book is introduced as being “suitable for cytogenetic technologists and clinicians alike”, and at first glance, appears to provide a comprehensive overview of all aspects of clinical cytogenetics. However, on closer examination, the book is a rather curious mixture of information. The introductory chapters are perhaps the most confusing. The overview of the biochemistry of genetics is brief, to the point that one needs an intimate knowledge of the processes of replication, transcription, and translation to understand the chapter, thereby rendering it largely surplus to requirements. The chapter on chromosome nomenclature is a rather poor truncation of the Paris ISCN1 and because the authors are only too happy to refer the reader to suitable manuals for laboratory methodology, it would seem appropriate to do so for this topic also. There is a general lack of cohesion about the book, almost as though none of the authors had any knowledge of the contents of the other chapters. That said, several of the chapters on clinical cytogenetics provided very good overviews, and several included comprehensive tables of data pooled from various sources to give an easily manageable reference for aetiologies of several classes of chromosome disorder. The chapter on cancer genetics, although thorough in its presentation of tumour specific breakpoints, fails to expand on the specific biochemical and genetic results of the rearrangements specified. I felt that this was particularly remiss in the present climate of molecular genetic discovery, because only a few well selected and well described examples would be necessary to whet the reader's appetite for further discovery. The reader should also be aware that the book suffers from shoddy proofreading. Diagrams are mislabelled, and typographical errors are frequent and often misleading—in the chapter on chromosome nomenclature several examples are given using a chromosome band that does not exist. Overall, I found the book to be a useful aide memoire for several topics, and although perhaps an expensive luxury for the individual, I would recommend the book as an addition to any laboratory or hospital library.