Last seen in a wartime laundry room, James Herriot returns to the Yorkshire farms in this fourth tour of duty, which is as sunny and unerringly pitched as his previous three. This time he focuses on developments of the postwar years which changed the practice of veterinary medicine--""all t' needle,"" as one farmer put it. Often accompanied by son Jimmy or, later, daughter Rosie, he tested the new procedures, occasionally with insufficient preparation: at his first insemination attempt, he found himself facing a raging bull, armed only with an artificial vagina. Old buddies Siegfried and Tristan appear now and then--Tristan, always a luckier chap, handles the bull with ease--but the chief contrast comes from another source: Herriot alternates postwar experiences with diary entries from a 1961 voyage to Russia and a flight, via ""elderly"" airplane, to Istanbul. This device, an effective reaffirmation of Herriot's literary talents, allows him to add tension, vary the pace, and introduce unfamiliar surroundings while showing himself capable of the same near-misses and last-minute reprieves thousands of miles from home. As always, Herriot writes generously of his Darrowby regulars, even when they interrupt his Sunday pudding, and he pauses to reflect on the passing scene. A major event for the faithful and a find for those just coming into the fold: one only hopes that end of the verse does not mean end of the line.