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Pocket Atlas of Chinese Medicine

Pocket Atlas of Chinese Medicine by Marnae C. Ergil and Kevin V. Ergil (eds). New York, NY: Thieme Medical Publishers; 2009. Paperback; 415 pages. ISBN-13: 978-3131416117. $49.95.

The elite medical publishing company Thieme has set a new standard for introductory materials on Chinese medicine in this new member of the Pocket Atlas series. The Pocket Atlas of Chinese Medicine provides an excellent overview of Chinese medical practices and is suitable for both learners and the curious public.

Editors and authors for this project are Marnae C. Ergil, associate professor in the Department of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at New York Chiropractic College, and Kevin V. Ergil, associate professor at Touro College in the School of Health Sciences in New York. They are seasoned practitioners and educators in the field of Chinese medicine. Their unique experience equips them for the task of constructing a fascinating and functional work on the subject. M. Ergil has served on translational teams for important works in Chinese medical diagnostics and K. Ergil has served as dean at more than one school of acupuncture and Asian medicine. They have also collected a team of experts as contributors to the book, including Simon Becker, Stephen Birtch, Mary Garvey, Michael McCarthy, Anne Reinard, Yves Requena, and Douglas Wile.

This book is already considered required reading for a range of 1st and 2nd semester courses at certain schools of Chinese medicine. Designed for both lay audiences and health professionals, it provides a broad view of Chinese medicine that is contextualizing. This book will also serve well as a front-office book within medical clinics for new patients to explore the complexities and nuances of Chinese medicine.

The practice of placing the pictures and graphs opposite each other on facing pages facilitates a conceptual grasp of the material, and the result is a practical reference.

The book is arranged into 10 sections: history, theory, diagnosis, acupuncture, tui na (a form of manual therapy), pharmacotherapy, dietetics, the exercise therapeutic qi gong, the exercise technique tai ji, and acupuncture research. Three case studies are woven throughout each of the sections on diagnosis, herbs, and acupuncture. This is an excellent teaching tool, providing a perspective on practice. This book also provides a unique overview of all of the core practices of Chinese medicine. It is easy to flip to a relevant section and see pictures and text related to a given area of Chinese medical practice.

The editors guide readers through the complexities of Chinese medical thought, beginning with diagnosis and progressing to the treatment plan using acupuncture points, Chinese medicinal herbs and other medicinal materials, and formulas. Learners who read this book early in their studies will be able to obtain a broad perspective of Chinese medicine that should allow them to see where they are headed in their careers. Such insight will enhance their ability to integrate different areas of coursework.

The one concern that I have for the lay public is that the editors have employed a translational standard that at times may cause the reading experience of an otherwise well-written work to be stilted. This is an understandable decision that fulfills professional-technical language requirements with a need for accurate translations from the original Chinese. Moreover, I do not believe that this decision has impeded the potential success of this work. Indeed, it lends clarity to those who seek one-to-one correlations with the original Chinese language materials.

The Pocket Atlas of Chinese Medicine provides the reader with a brief historical and cultural triptych of Chinese medicine since ancient times and showcases that which continues to influence its growth throughout the world today. The editors also present the philosophical roots of Chinese medicine, which inform the theoretical bases and models of practice.

This book fulfills my previous recommendations for an introductory text on Traditional Chinese Medicine. The editors have created a thorough, accurate, and accessible introduction to this complex field. Kudos to Thieme and the Ergils.

—William Morris, PhD, DAOM, President, The Academy of Oriental Medicine, Austin, TX