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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Broken Guts

Author Anthony Aikman, a retired doctor who has spent many years in under-developed countries and now helping the Lahoo hill tribe villagers in North Thailand, sent his latest book “Broken Guts” (ISBN 1-888822-34-1) to our editor, who in turn passed it on to me, who in turn passed it on to our own doctor, Dr. Iain, for his comments. The reason for this was the subtitle, which is “A Rough medical guide for Foreign Travellers in Thailand and S.E. Asia”.
Opening the book, the idea of a ‘rough guide’ is immediately borne out. This book has not been printed in one of the more usual fonts, but is a copy of author Aikman’s own hand-written manuscript. I have also previously reviewed one of Aikman’s earlier books “Boy, Doc and the Green Man” and in which I wrote, “Doc is introduced - a foreign doctor who spends his days attempting to practice western medicine and dentistry in the rural community. It is the Doc character who spends much time attempting to teach Boy about the ethereal concepts of creation and the part one’s personal God has to play in formulating and accepting the force within.” That character is obviously modeled upon author Aikman, and his personal philosophy, where in this book he covers the “Big Bang” theory of creation, some soul searching quoting Plato, and a short discourse on why Homo Sapiens is a misnomer. There is also the sobering message that children are still dying from malaria “when a few pills, the price of a packet of cigarettes - would have saved them.”
(From Dr. Iain): “The book opens with a very clear explanation of what it is. It is not a medical treatise or undergraduate textbook (though undergraduates could learn from it, even if it were just ‘common sense’). It is a ‘Rough guide, only intended to be a simple and practical help for travelers, dealing with ordinary ailments and accidents that may occur on their journeys.’
“I found little to criticize in the medical advice, being very sound and based on some years of experience in under-doctored regions of the world. I also liked his literary style, a conversational dawdle through the intricacies of the human body with such gems as ‘Kidneys. They come in pairs. Unlike liver and heart you do have a spare in case one breaks down.’
“All very good practical advice and I must admit I have never read instructions for lay persons on how to make a suppository!” (Dr. Iain)
As opposed to the norm, author Aikman’s book has two pages of Index starting on page 7, and has kept everything as simple as possible. Do not look for hemorrhoids under “H”, but you will find piles under “P”. The short homilies interspersed with medical advice made good reading, and in line with his personal credo, the book can be downloaded free from the website www.anthon yaikman.co.uk. There was a short note with the review copy which stated “If this book helps you – please help the next needy person you meet.” A deep and meaningful concept from an obviously deep and well meaning man.