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J J Bray, P A Cragg, A D C Macknight, R G Mills. (Pp 610; £19.95.) Oxford: Blackwell Science Ltd, 1999. ISBN 0-86542-775-5. All books are available from Blackwell Science Ltd, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0EL. Tel: 01865 206206, Fax: 01865 721205.
My immediate impressions when opening this text were that it is comprehensively written but at the same time may appear daunting, especially to undergraduate students. However, on reading the text, it becomes readily apparent that the subject matter is well described in a digestible manner. The flow of the text is aided by the fact that no references are included in the text. A list of relevant references at the end of each chapter would, however, have been useful for the reader to gain further insight into areas of interest. The numerous diagrams intersperse the text well and are relevant, but the text drastically required colour to make the read more interesting and, most importantly, eye-catching. It was, at times, like watching a 1950s black and white film. The chapters themselves were well subheaded and divided into manageable sections. I found the text a little small in places, even with my glasses on, and felt that the contents page was not informative enough. The abbreviations at the start of each chapter were useful and helped to give a feel for what was to come. I think that a brief summary at the end of each chapter would have been useful, covering the key elements that the chapter highlighted. From a sports science perspective, the text is interesting in places but there is much peripheral material that may be more relevant to the human physiologist (for example, the chapters on sensory systems and higher nervous functions). Some sections are pertinent but the reader needs to be selective, as though picking the chocolate chips off the cookie. As a biochemical text, the book is excellent and there are comprehensive sections on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It would not be the first text that I would reach for on the bookshelf, but I would be comforted in the fact that it was there if needed.
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