An American doctor's amazed reaction to 1975-78 Saudi Arabia. Gray, a Harvard physician, had treated Saudi royalty in Boston before he signed on as chief medical officer at the new King Faisal Special Hospital in Riyadh. Despite other relevant experience training doctors from developing countries, tours of Central and South America, and preparatory reading in T. E. Lawrence and others, he was staggered by what he found on arrival. Advised to keep his bags packed, he nervously--and successfully-treated King Khalid's cousin for gastrointestinal bleeding (one of the first royal cases not referred abroad). Then, thanks to his professional status and a knack for making friends, he got an inside view of orthodox Islamic society. Mainly, however, he ponders what he interprets as the plight of women--as confided to him by the mostly Western-educated women, momentarily unveiled, who were his patients in the hospital. We hear about the prescribed veiling, the difficulty in getting an education, the inability to work--much-reported conditions that have altered, moreover, in the intervening years. Gray's other conventional themes are the near-absence of crime--in Riyadh's Chop Square, thieves lose a hand, rapists and murderers their lives--and the royal family's extraordinary wealth. On the medical front, we learn only that high blood pressure is rare and (through a malpractice case) that ""blood money"" must be paid to families when patients die through negligence. With much wide-eyed lauding of things modern and American: trifling in today's context.