We're held anywhere from beneath contempt to above reproach,"" said one of the many doctors whom Pekkanen (Donor; The Best Doctors in the U.S.) interviewed for this book. A seasoned medical writer and firsthand observer from the patient's point of view, Pekkanen has compiled a remarkably telling document about American medicine today. The picture is somber; even sad. It is not that there are no good, caring docs out there--their voices are eloquent throughout the collection. It is just that they sound so beleaguered--tired, overworked, paying oppressive malpractice insurance, feeling the competition of the for-profit chains and the walk-in facilities, cursing the endless forms and reforms to reduce Medicaid and Medicare costs and hospital stays. Worse, there seems no way out. It helps that patients are better informed; it doesn't help when citizens' groups urge laws that mandate sustaining life at any cost. It helps that biomedical research and technology have revolutionized diagnosis and treatments. It doesn't help that so much indebtedness accrues in medical schools that few can afford careers in research. Overall, there remain inequities in access to care and delivery of services. Bad docs and bad hospitals continue to thrive. Women docs still get short shrift, especially in traditionally macho specialities like surgery. The prevalence of depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide continues high among physicians. Pekkanen offers no solutions. Instead, by letting the principals speak for themselves in such areas as training, colleagues, patients, death and dying, politics and greed, he paints a realistic portrait of the art and science of medicine today. Withal, a sense of hope emerges in the wisdom and compassion expressed by many who were interviewed, along with an abiding belief that patients will continue to cherish a trusting relationship with their doctors.