Some books you can read, cover to cover, the chapters building on one another, until at the end you feel as though you have learned a topic in great depth and breadth. Others are more like individual parts strung together, each interesting in their own right. This book is more like the latter. I think the best way to read this book is to start with individual chapters that either capture your interest or relate to a particular case or diagnosis. As a supervisor, I suspect that one of the major ways I will use this book is for teaching. It is perfect for use with graduate students just starting their clinical work in neuropsychology. I imagine I will be assigning certain chapters to read after we see a patient with a particular diagnosis, for example. I could also see myself assigning chapters on rare conditions, perhaps ones that are important to know about, but that you rarely see in a generalized neuropsychological practice.
But I do not think that this book is only good for students. As a practicing neuropsychologist, I find myself constantly learning, and also seeking out opportunities to learn. This book is interesting and informative in the sense that it gives you a glimpse into the clinical assessment procedures of a number of prominent neuropsychologists, so you get to see what types of tests they use, how they write up a case, and how they interpret data. While I do not expect to significantly change the way I practice based on this information, it did make me think about what I do, and why. Individual chapters were also good, short reviews of common disorders and issues that we all learn about in graduate school, but could perhaps use a refresher on now and then.
There are a few drawbacks. One is a lack of consistency. Given that the chapters are all written by different individuals, there is a lack of homogeneity, which to some degree is to be expected, but I still found it a bit jarring. For example, some chapters are very long and contain more information than one would want to really know about certain diagnoses. Other authors are short and to the point, which I appreciated. One chapter in particular stood out as being somewhat brash and controversial (the chapter on MCI by Jim Andrikopoulos). Most, however, were fairly conservative and traditional in their approach to reviewing disorders and case presentations.
As an adult neuropsychologist, I found the pediatric chapters difficult to get through as I was not as familiar with all of the tests. However, I think this is something that would only affect someone who had to review (and thus read) all of the chapters; if one uses the book as intended, this would not be an issue. Also, the diagnoses chosen for inclusion are somewhat puzzling at times. While I appreciate that the editors tried to obtain a mixture of common (i.e., TBI, dementia) and uncommon (i.e., childhood genetic disorders) conditions, some fairly common disorders (at least in my own practice) were inexplicably left out, such as alcoholic dementia, Parkinson's dementia, and infectious illnesses such as herpes simplex encephalitis and Lyme's encephalopathy. There were no chapters on some medical conditions that can cause neuropsychological deficits, such as COPD, sleep apnea, and diabetes. There was also no chapter on delirium except one chapter on hepatic encephalopathy, which was interesting but certainly not the “prototypical” delirium patient. There were also several chapters on similar diagnoses/issues, such as malingering/effort, TBI, and epilepsy, which were a bit repetitive.
Overall, however, I think there are significant strengths to this book. Most weaknesses are frankly to be expected in this type of book. On a positive note, I found myself thinking about several of the cases long after I had finished reading it. It is a valuable reference to add to one's arsenal of resources in the field of neuropsychology.