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American Society of Hematology Self-Assessment Program (ASH-SAP), Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

I was very pleased to be able to review this as I knew the program was planned and was keen to see the final result, because the ASH educational materials are generally of high quality and, on account of their rapid publication, contain up-to-date information. ASH-SAP is not cheap at £199, so is it worth the money? There are two books: one is 356 pages containing the text and illustrations, and there is a smaller book (133 pages) containing the self-assessment questions. American physicians can obtain CME credits if they complete the test sheet and mail this off with a cheque to ASH.

The text is large but very succinct covering the whole of haematology through sections devoted to molecular biology, laboratory haematology, general and transfusion medicine as well as extensive coverage of malignant haematology. Specialist haematology such as intensive care is also covered. Unlike the ASH Education Book, the ASH-SAP is produced by Blackwell Publishing and, for that reason, is very professional in appearance. The text is very readable with a nice range of illustrations. The photomicrographs are not of the highest quality, but this is not meant to be an atlas so I do not think that matters. I have to admit I largely read the bits I am interested in but was impressed by the quality of the writing. Each chapter has an annotated bibliography, which gets round the problem of having hundreds of references scattered through the text. I did complete some of the questions and learned from the experience. I am not quite sure how I would find time to complete the whole exercise.

So, all in all, this is a new review-style textbook, but it does not suffer the time delay usually experienced by major multiauthor texts because of the rapid publication time. I think in this era of revalidation and the need to keep up to date, this style of learning and assessment will be most welcomed by senior haematologists but, equally, for the MRCPath examination, this has to be on the bookshelves of our trainees to use alongside the standard texts. Once again, ASH has set a very high standard for haematology education, and I strongly recommend this program.