Most intellectual endeavors rightly start with a basic question that, if well done, is simple, direct, and penetrating. Textbooks are not immune to this rule, except perhaps encyclopedias, and must meet conditions of relevance, cost, size, and style. The text must be directed, but the audience, although usually defined, is actually universal. This paradox perhaps explains why there are so few really fine texts. This type of authorship is a difficult undertaking, requiring competence graced with judgment, sensitivity, and maturity.
The authors of this text, in accepting this challenge, have chosen a particularly troublesome field, for cardiology is in ferment.