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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Anatomy and Physiology (2nd Edition) by Elaine N. Marieb (Benjamin Cummings) The first edition of Anatomy & Physiology—"Slim" to those at Benjamin Cummings—has proven the saying, "Give the people what they want and they will buy it." Although Slim is shorter and cheaper than the original two-semester Human Anatomy & Physiology text, I, as author, was sure that no one would seriously consider adopting an anatomy and physiology text that pared down pedagogical perks and omitted topics of pregnancy, developmental aspects (embryonic and fetal devel­opment and aging), and heredity; I have been proven to be dead wrong. So we are off to see the wizard again with this second edition of Anatomy & Physiology.

As before, all the major organ systems are covered in this text version. As always, I continue to use the pyramid approach in presenting the material, building a broad base to support all that comes later. Unifying themes are emphasized, and explanations are reinforced with comfortable analogies and famil­iar examples that focus on mechanisms and cause and effect relationships. Thus, students can gain an integrated and continuously enhanced understand­ing of the workings of the human body.

Unifying Themes

Three integrating themes organize, unify, and set the tone of this text:

Interrelationships of body organ systems: The fact that nearly all regulatory mechanisms require interaction of several organ systems is continually emphasized. For example, Chapter 24, which deals with the structure and function of the urinary sys­tem, discusses the vital importance of the kidneys not only in maintaining adequate blood volume to ensure normal blood circulation, but also in continually adjusting the chemical composition of blood so that all body cells remain healthy.

Homeostasis: The normal and most desirable condition of body functioning is homeostasis. Its loss or destruction always leads to some type of pathology—temporary or permanent. Pathological conditions are integrated with the text to clarify and illuminate normal functioning, not as an end in and of themselves. For example, Chapter 18, which deals with the structure and function of blood vessels, ex-plains how the ability of healthy arteries to expand and recoil ensures continuous blood flow and proper circulation. The chapter goes on to discuss the ef­fects on homeostasis when arteries lose their elastic­ity: high blood pressure and all of its attendant problems. These homeostatic imbalances are indicated visually by an orange symbol with an H in its center.

Whenever students see the imbalance symbol in text, the concept of disease as a loss of homeostasis is reinforced.

Complementarity of structure and function: Students are encouraged to understand the structure of an organ, a tissue, or a cell as a prerequisite to comprehending its function. Concepts of physiology are explained and related to structural characteris­tics that promote or allow the various functions to occur. For example, the lungs can act as a gas exchange site because the walls of their air sacs present an in-credibly thin barrier between blood and air.

Pedagogical Features Retained

Pedagogical features that have proven their worth and are still with us include the following:

Chapter outlines and student objectives preface each chapter and guide students to concepts that are most important to know.

Illustrated tables summarize complex information and serve as "one-stop shopping" study tools.

Key questions accompany selected figures and prod the student to interpret the concepts or illus­trated processes, or to make predictions about "what's next." Answers can be found upside down on the same page.

Homeostatic imbalance icons alert the students to consequences when the body is not functioning opti­mally.

Review questions help students to evaluate their progress in the subject.

The award-winning InterActive Physiology® 8-System Suite now comes packaged with each new copy of the text and provides students with multi-media backup for the topics covered.

New to the Second Edition

Shorter, more concise text with enhanced read-ability. The entire manuscript was perused by a de­velopmental editor whose ministrations tightened the text without sacrificing important content or the analogies and synonyms that enhance student learning.

Factual material updates. A major undertaking of this edition was to update the factual material in all subject areas—a monumental task that demands painstaking selectivity. Certain areas are updated in every edition—immunity, cell signaling, and the of­ferings of genetic engineering—and this edition is no exception. However, other subjects of study are also attended to as appropriate for the changing litera­ture. Specific examples from Chapter 3 are sufficient to illustrate this trend: Information on membrane transport, particularly facilitated diffusion and vesic­ular transport, is updated, and the explanation of how the membrane potential is generated and main­tained is made more explicit. Chapter 3 has improved: more detailed descriptions of DNA and protein synthesis, accompanied by new schematic illustrations that clearly depict these events.

Reorganization of specific chapters and topics. Chapter 9 on muscle tissue has been reorganized so that the discussion of the physiology of skeletal muscle fibers now encompasses muscle fiber con-traction, which in turn is described in its temporal sequence in the process of excitation and contrac­tion. The chapter also includes a new discussion of the relationship between stimulus intensity and muscle tension that recognizes the order in which motor units of various sizes and muscle cell types are recruited.

Revised art program. Once again, every piece of art has been touched and the color palette has been revised to provide art that has richer, more organic color. Many pieces have been touched up to enhance their detail and many new views have been added, especially in the nervous system chapters. Selected physiology figures have been rerendered to reflect re-cent research on functional processes. All the tissue figures in Chapter 4 as well as flowcharts throughout the book have been redone for consistency and clar­ity. As before, the art has a consistent color protocol to encourage automatic learning. Every time you see an ATP starburst it is bright yellow; oxygen is red; cellular cytoplasm is routinely beige; and so on.

Additionally, there are many more photomicro­graphs and clinical photos in this edition and many of those retained from earlier editions have been up-sized. As pointed out by a conscientious reviewer, "If you can't see it clearly, then it's not worth having."

• Multimedia offerings enhanced. The InterActive Physiology® 8-System Suite is now packaged free with each new copy of the text. The Anatomy & Physiology Place has been updated, and innovative media new to the Second Edition includes the In­structor's Resource CD-ROM: Images, Animations, and Lecture Presentation, which is explained in greater detail in the following discussion of the sup­plements that accompany the text. 

Human Anatomy (4th Edition) by Elaine N. Marieb, Jon Mallatt, Patricia Brady Wilhelm (Benjamin Cummings) builds upon the clear, concise explanations and outstanding illustration program of previous editions with many new figures, cadaver photos, micrographs, and a powerful new online resource from Primal Pictures. With engaging text descriptions that explain how anatomical structure relates to function, this best-selling book gives readers the framework they need to develop a deeper understanding of human anatomy. The fully updated Human Anatomy Place website provides a wide variety of review exercises, including practice quizzes, case studies, bone and muscle reviews, learning activities and more. The Human Body, Cells, Basic Embryology, Tissues, The Integumentary System, Bones and Skeletal Tissues, Bones, Joints, Muscle Tissue, Muscles of the Body, The Nervous System and Nervous Tissue, The Central Nervous System, The Peripheral Nervous System, The Autonomic Nervous System and Visceral Sensory Neurons, The Special Senses, Blood, The Heart, Blood Vessels, The Lymphatic and Immune Systems, The Respiratory System, The Digestive System, The Urinary System, The Reproductive System, The Endocrine System, Surface Anatomy. For college instructors and students, or anyone interested in human anatomy & physiology.}


The general philosophy behind this fourth edition of Human Anatomy remains the same as in the previous edi­tions. As an instructor, you know that teaching anatomy is not just the presentation of facts. You must provide infor­mation in a framework that encourages genuine under-standing, devise new presentations to help students remem­ber large amounts of material, and help students apply what they have learned to new situations. All the while you hope that you inspire in the students a love of the subject.

After many years of teaching human anatomy, we became convinced that new approaches to the subject could excite and challenge the students' natural curiosity. That is why we decided to write this book. We are fortunate to have collaborated with Benjamin Cummings, a publisher that shares our goal: to set a new standard for pedagogical and visual effectiveness in an anatomy text.

This book is designed for one-semester or one-quarter introductory anatomy courses that serve students in prenurs­ing, premedical, prephysical therapy, radiological technol­ogy, physician assistant training, predentistry, pharmacy, and other allied-health fields, as well as physical education, athletic training, and nutrition.

Unique Approach to Anatomy

Since its inception, we have worked diligently to distinguish Human Anatomy from the many other anatomy books cur­rently available. This book explains anatomy thoroughly, and its discussions are not merely brief summaries of the art. We have striven to present the basic concepts of anatomy—gross, microscopic, developmental, and clinical—in a man­ner that is clearly written, effectively organized, up to date, and well illustrated. We realize that learning anatomy involves assimilating gargantuan amounts of material, and we have tried to make our presentation as logical and acces­sible as possible. To this end, we present anatomy as a "story" that can be explained and understood—convincing the stu­dents that the structure of the body makes sense.

Although descriptive gross anatomy is a relatively static science, functional anatomy, neuroanatomy, developmental anatomy, and the functional aspects of tissue and cellular anatomy are subfields in which knowledge is growing quickly. This text strives to keep up with the knowledge explosion in these subfields and to present anatomy in a way that allows the modern biology student, whose training is becoming ever more molecular and cellular, to anchor their biochemical and medical training in the physical context of the human body. Here, then, are the distinguishing features of our book.

Functional Approach

First, we strongly emphasize the functional anatomy theme, giving careful consideration to the adaptive characteristics of

the anatomical structures of the body. Wherever possible, we explain how the shape and composition of the anatomical structures allow them to perform their functions. Such func­tional anatomy is not physiology (which focuses on biological mechanisms), but is more akin to "design analysis." This approach is unique for a text at this level.

Emphasis on Current Research

The authors read extensively in current clinical and research journals to provide a wealth of cutting-edge information for this book. Current research and its applications are found throughout the text to support the structural anatomy pre­sented and to give the student a broader understanding of the implications of anatomical structure and function. Most chapters also contain A Closer Look topic boxes that explore functional or clinical applications of a particular topic in greater detail. Some of the topics included are: the uses of stem cells in tissue engineering (Chapter 4); anabolic steroid abuse (Chapter 10); bone marrow and cord-blood trans-plants (Chapter 17); atherosclerosis (Chapter 19); AIDS (Chapter 20); and potential uses of growth hormones (Chap-ter 25). All A Closer Look boxes have been updated to reflect the most current information available.

Microscopic Anatomy

We have worked to provide an especially effective treatment of microscopic anatomy. Many undergraduate texts treat histology as a specialized and minor subfield that takes a back seat to gross anatomy. This is unfortunate, because most physiological and disease processes take place at the cell and tissue level, and most allied-health students require a solid background in histology and sub-cellular structure to prepare them for their physiology courses. Microscopic anatomy is one of Dr. Mallatt's research areas, and he has taught histology to University of Washington medical students for over 20 years. This edi­tion features many additional photomicrographs to support the study of microscopic anatomy.


Our text is designed to present embryology in the most effec­tive and logical way. Currently, all competing texts describe the embryology of each organ system in the relevant chapters, yet do not provide the fundamentals of embryology until the very end of the book, in the section on the female repro­ductive organs. This approach seems backward to us. We are convinced that the fundamentals should be presented early in the text, before the more advanced discussions of the developing organ systems in the relevant chapters. Therefore, we wrote Chapter 3 as a basic introduction to embryology. Because a comprehensive presentation of embryology early in the book could be intimidating to some students, we have

used a "velvet glove approach," providing only the most important concepts in a concise, understandable way, and visually reinforced with exceptionally clear new art.

Life Span Approach

Most chapters in this book close with a "Throughout Life" section that first summarizes the embryonic development of organs of the system and then examines how these organs change across one's life span. Diseases particularly common during certain periods of life are pointed out, and effects of aging are considered. The implications of aging are partic­ularly important to students in the health-related curricula because many of their patients will be in the senior age group.

Interactive Learning

This book is an interactive learning tool that encourages understanding; it is not an encyclopedia that encourages rote memorization. Whereas many scientific textbooks read like long lists of terms, this book reads like an instructor talking to, explaining to, and challenging the student. For those organs and systems with especially many components (e.g., skeletal muscles, cranial nerves, sensory receptors), we present these components in illustrated tables that organize the information in a logical way. Clinical Applications boxes are provided to challenge the student and to encour­age synthesis of information.


This text conforms to the organization of most anatomy courses, starting with several introductory chapters followed by skeletal, muscular, nervous, and circulatory chapters, and then chapters on the various systems of visceral organs (see the Table of Contents). We also retain the following unique organizational features of previous editions of this book.

As mentioned, we introduce basic embryology early (Chapter 3), a position that provides students with the background they need to understand the development of specific organ systems in later chapters.

We present the endocrine system late (Chapter 25), after students have learned the visceral systems that the endocrine system controls. Nonetheless, we realize that many courses teach endocrine system anatomy with the nervous system, so we designed the endocrine system chapter so that it can also be interjected and under-stood at an earlier point in the course.

We cover surface anatomy last (Chapter 26) so that we can discuss more of the clinical information related to body surface features. Books that place this chapter earlier, after bone and muscles, cannot logically discuss the surface anatomy of blood vessels (pulse points), lymph nodes, nerves, and the visceral organs. Our coverage of surface anatomy is the book's capstone, offering students a uniquely practical summary of the entire body.

Outstanding Illustration Program

Art plays a critical role in helping students visualize anatom­ical structures and concepts, and over the years we have dili­gently striven to maintain the hallmark accuracy of Human Anatomy's art. We have incorporated art that is larger, sharper, and richer looking. Images have been enhanced for clarity, color, and contrast between structures. Care has been taken to ensure consistency in color and style for sim­ilar structures to enhance visual learning. This, combined with clear layouts, organized labeling, enlarged art size and improved three-dimensional details, greatly enhances the presentation of material and will help students in their understanding of human anatomy.

We have continued to refine other aspects of our illus­tration program, too. As in previous editions we use color not only for aesthetic purposes but also to denote the func­tional characteristics or developmental derivation of anatomical structures. More illustrations than ever feature orientation diagrams, simple "thumbnail" sketches that clar­ify an illustration's anatomical perspective or pinpoint the location of an organ within the body. Light micrographs and scanning electron micrographs are used abundantly. Images produced by modern medical scanning techniques (CT, PET, MRI) are included where appropriate to enhance understanding of anatomical structures. In this edition, we have increased the number of micrographs throughout the text and added additional cadaver dissection photographs to augment key illustrations.

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