The Handy Anatomy Answer Book is just that. It contains color illustrations and photographs to help the layman understand the functions of all parts of the body. And it covers more than that, including the common diseases associated with organs, blood, and bones. Like Johnny Carson used to joke, "EVERYTHING you need to know is right here in this book!" Only in this case, it's no joke – you can learn a lot from perusing this book and it would make a great gift for a young person (late adolescence to adult) who might want to be a doctor someday, in addition to being a fine, simplified reference for the family.
To begin with, the authors are knowledgeable – Naomi E Balaban is a reference librarian, and James E Bobick is a science professor. Together they have written two other, similar books – The Handy Science Answer Book and the Handy Biology Answer Book.
In this encyclopedic paperback, the authors begin with basic regions of the body and basic biology. The format is question and answer, thus we have:
"What structure separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominopelvic cavity?
Some of the subject matter is peripheral to the direct study of anatomy. For example, you will learn from this book how, when, and by whom certain crucial medical discoveries were made. Pierre Paul Broca (1824-1880) identified an area of the brain responsible for speech production in 1861. Two English physiologists discovered hormones. The first documented case of AIDS was in Kinshasa in 1959. The first antibiotic was streptomycin, used in the treatment of tuberculosis. An army doctor gathered valuable knowledge about digestion while treating the massive abdominal wound of a gunshot victim. You can't remove fingerprints – don't even bother! Even burning them off, as the notorious John Dillinger did, will not result in a permanent loss. Now that's amazing.
The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominopelvic cavity in the ventral cavity. It is a thin, dome-shaped sheet of muscle."
You will also come to understand the relationship of physical structure and biology to major diseases and common activities. Some of the questions and answers are just plain interesting. How does muscular dystrophy act on muscles, and which muscles are affected? Why is carbon monoxide deadly? Why is blood sticky? What are the symptoms of kidney failure? How does exercise affect the heart? What is the purpose of goosebumps? Why are some people allergic to cats but not dogs? Is urine always yellow?
The book specifically does not offer medical advice. Its purpose is to assist the reader in understanding medical terminology, physical functions and processes, and to familiarize him/her with standard medical illustrations. That way, if a disease should occur, one would be more prepared to ask intelligent questions based on a greater knowledge of the cause.