This monumental work is a handbook covering every conceivable aspect of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). More than 50 international authors with experience in the field have contributed. It is also a very personal work, coloured by the opinions and experiences of Swartz (who also contributes six chapters and the preface). These take the form of journalistic ‘editor's notes’ after other authors' chapters, often somewhat elliptic or even eccentric comments, usually critical of the chapter authors' contribution.
I would not recommend the book to trainees or even for a training library. The highly personal approach to evidence requires the critical sifting of the material by a mature reader, who may then even take a certain amount of enjoyment from the quirky presentation. The book is written from the US perspective and may not be relevant in some aspects to UK National Health Service practice. There are some rather arcane chapters, such as ‘ECT in biographical books and movies’, ‘ECT availability in the US’, ‘ECT forms’, but this makes it likely that everybody interested in ECT will find something useful in the book. In contrast, the four chapters on neuromodulation treatments appear as an afterthought and are not sufficiently detailed to provide more than a cursory look at these methods.