This glorified travel guide takes us to spas in England, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the United States. ""The spa doctor is as powerful a person in Europe as the analyst in America,"" says Joseph Wechsberg, who gives us spa histories (the term comes from the town of Spa, Belgium), famous habituâ€šs (a spa is ""only as good as its celebrities""), the mineral waters' curative claims, and details of spas' ""glamorous affairs."" We begin at Bath, England, end at Hot Springs, Virginia, and move languidly around Europe in between. Brighton's Royal Pavilion is ""so monumentally ugly that it is fascinating""; Baden-Baden's casinos, closed by the German Empire in 1870, were reopened by money-minded Nazis; the Spas of Eugâ€šnie, in Biarritz and Eugâ€šnie-les-Bains, offer an eleven-day plankton beauty treatment. Some spas are radioactive, particularly Austria's Bad Gastein, where bathing requires permission of the spa doctor and is forbidden for sufferers from fever, heart trouble, cancer, TB, or mental disease; the waters are ""too powerful to play around with,"" says Wechsberg, because the radon gases ""wake up latent diseases that were not known and may never have been known."" Other than this, harmless, shallow waters.