The Doctors, published in November last, was an almost immediate best seller running close, for a time, to Not As a Stranger. While we were not in the cheering section of critics, we do not hesitate to reverse judgment when it comes to The Healing Oath, which seems to us an infinitely finer book and one meriting all the success it had in Europe as volume three of the Soubiran trilogy (The Doctors here combining volumes one and two). Where The Doctors depended on the morbid side of medical training plus an undue stress on the sexual amenities of off-student hours, The Healing Oath has the warmth and tenderness, as well as the stark realism, of a country doctor's practice. Occasionally, shock techniques startle the reader into horrified awareness of the unbeautiful in back country peasant living; occasionally, one is treated to overlong diatribes on the disillusionments of medical practice, as well as the goals. But the whole emerges as a heartening study of man's growth in understanding, sympathy, awareness of the challenge on all fronts that medicine means. Jean Merac, of The Doctors, acting ""locum"" for an old doctor during a long period of illness, learns that the cheap tawdriness of his life in Paris has become meaningless; that his career in sex had no roots; that- after all- Marianne, one time love, still has the bigness to forgive his betrayals, and that the call of country practice holds all ""the healing oath"" has come to mean to him. A holding and powerful story, not dependent on the earlier book for appreciative interest and understanding.