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Cynical Acumen: The Anarchic Guide to Clinical Medicine Paperback – 1 Dec 2005
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"'The plan is for this book to be banned. In a market place stuffed to the gunnels with medical text books, surgical text-books, clinical text books - something is required to set a new volume apart from the others. Something has to catch the eye of the potential reader. In the absence of any superior qualifications, testimonials or indeed literary merit, I have decided that being banned is clearly the best bet. It must be said that the aim is not to cause upset deliberately, but merely finding to my surprise that a candid account of a practical approach to patients and their problems - as well as other practitioners and the problems they cause - is not in keeping with what one would call "good medical practice".' John Larkin, in the Preface"
From the Author
Winner of MJA Book-of-the-Year 2006. One of Traumaroom's 'Top
5 non-medical medical books' ("uniquely funny and surprisingly
educational"). Certainly the funniest medical book I've ever read - and
I've read three!
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Top customer reviews
What makes this book good for learning is that it's written in the first person perspective. It's as if somebody is talking directly at you. This makes the book more interesting than the average clinical textbook. There are some real diamonds of information in the text. Some information is less useful, but it's good to know.
However, there are a number of technical reasons why the humour falls short:
> The footnote style might have been borrowed from Terry Pratchett (there are not too many authors in popular literature who use this style). However, I don't think John Larkin appreciated the technical reasons why Terry Pratchett's footnotes work.They work partly because Terry Pratchett's body text and footnotes are written using different perspectives - the footnotes break the 'fourth wall' but the body text does not. John Larkin breaks the 'fourth wall' in the body text as well, so the footnotes only serve to break the flow of the text - this is generally not welcome.
> Some of the sentences have superfluous words. Jokes need to get to the punchline in a snappier way.
> Many of the jokes hope to work by identifying the small things in life that both the author and the reader share. Terry Pratchett does this effectively (e.g. police stereotypes that everyone is familiar with). John Larkin does not succeed here, e.g.- there is no such thing as a stereotypical respiratory physician that everyone recognises. Another example is that although we have all been on holidays, few have been on holidays specifically to the Algarve. One joke relies on the reader having been on holidays to the Algarve, rather than having been on previous holidays in general.
> The tone is too cynical to be amusing. Terry Pratchett is 'cynical' in the sense that he understands how low humanity can stoop sometimes, but this is more than counterbalanced by Terry Pratchett's shear optimism that shines through in the majority of his text. The cynicism in Cynical Acumen is never used as a contrast for the goodness that often results from practising good medicine, etc.
> Some of the author's thoughts are concerning and not happy. For example, he's reticent to teach people hints for passing an exam if he feels they are not good enough to pass the exam. I can see this leading to a 'Catch 22' situation and it begs the question, "Should he be changing the format of his exams if they don't reflect real life?"
> There are errors that 'jar' and stop you reading in your tracks - particularly since the author is 'trying to be clever'. For example, the author incorrectly describes 'asterixis' as an onomatopoeia on the same page as the words 'clubbing' and 'flap', which are both genuine onomatopoeias.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This book would be of interest to any non-surgical medical practitioner, and significantly useful for the 80% of fellowship candidates who don't take themselves or their profession too seriously.
Don't buy this if you lack a sense of humor or have an overly sanctimonious view of the practice of medicine.
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