The Chief of Staff of Boston's famous Lying-In-Hospital gives here the history of what is now the science of obstetrics, preluded by his own training in the field. This is the fourth title in Houghton's Life in America series. Irving writes simply, with a certain formality and a balance of true anecdotage, but it scarcely seems to warrant the publisher's definition as ""witty, charming, humorous"". It is however a good doctor's story, in a different field. Irving had the example of his grandfather, a Civil War surgeon, before him; he chose that profession, interned in obstetrics, did general surgery during the World War, and returned to his own field to become one of its preeminent teachers and practitioners. The story of the development of obstetrics is one of the most interesting in medicine, from its dark days when puerperal fever contributed its high mortality, through the discoveries of anaesthesia, antisepsis, to the use of surgery, the caesarean section and the forceps. Worthwhile for both subject matter and handling -- but not for all laymen.