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WAO Medical Book Review

Posted: October 2013

Landmark Papers in Allergy, Seminal Papers in Allergy with Expert Commentaries
Editors:  Aziz Sheikh, Tom Platts-Mills, and Allison Worth
Advisory editor:  Stephen Holgate
2013 Oxford University Press
ISBN:  9780199651559

List Price: $82.42
Available from: Amazon

Jaisubash Jayakumar, PhD
Research Fellow, Division of Immunology, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Senior Facilitator, School of Public Health and Family Medicine and Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town

This book justifies itself as it appears on the back hardcover that it is a true plethora of various landmark papers which includes different aspects in the field of allergy. It is very well organized into different sections and certainly easy to follow. The timeline section in the index which is presented in a concise chronological form is quite impressive and most definitely a valuable tool.

The purpose of this book is to provide its user a “bird’s eye” view of the several developments that happened in the field of allergy with the main focus being the second half of the 20th century as highlighted by the authors in the introduction.

This book is targeted to researchers, clinicians, scientists, historians, students (undergraduate and postgraduate), lecturers, specialists in allergy/immunology and also the people who are affected by allergy.

The book is divided into 5 sections. The first 4 sections incorporate landmark papers in allergy in chronological order. The title of each chapter listed at the beginning of each section is presented in the form of headings, statements and thought-provoking questions which would facilitate the reader’s easy grasp of the roots of allergy. The commentaries written by the leading allergy experts for each paper provide a good balance between the aspects of scientific critique and personal reflections.

I found that the commentary written for each chapter is lucid and also quite fascinating to read as it vividly portrays the concept of allergy which emerged from more than 200 years ago. Another personal highlight of this book for me is the thorough evaluation and examination of pivotal research papers that led to a systematic building of knowledge in the context of allergy. I have also found that the verbatim quotes from the original papers that appear in some of the commentaries put me “in the shoes” of researchers providing motivation of why a particular study was conducted in a certain way. I was also astonished by the contributions made to the development of this book as it delves into an enriched wealth of insights and provides context covering the various aspects of allergy. I must say that it certainly stimulates one's thinking and provides useful cues establishing that the cause of allergy is multifactorial strongly suggesting that it is time for people involved in the field to think more outside the box.

The placement of references at the end of each chapter complements each commentary and helped me identify not only the key papers of utmost importance that led to a particular paper but also scrutinize papers that covered research of my personal interest.

This book is really comprehensive encompassing the milestone developments in the discipline of allergology through seminal publications across the 18th to 21st centuries. It is also an absolute scientific treat for those who are passionate about exploring, updating their knowledge on allergy and also to those who are keen to significantly contribute in the field.