A big, sprawling story of the fighters in the war against breast cancer, told by a journalist who seems unable to get a firm grip on her subject. Stabiner (Inventing Desire: Inside Chiat/Day, 1993, etc.), who has written for the New Yorker and other magazines, provides a revealing profile of the unconventional and headstrong breast surgeon Dr. Susan Love, whose UCLA Breast Center she visited daily from January to September 1994. Stabiner also offers compelling glimpses into the lives of seven of Love's patients. The conflicts between Love, a dedicated and outspoken activist, and her bosses at UCLA, who fear she is not dealing with the money-losing center's real problems, are adeptly outlined. If Stabiner had chosen to write a behind-the-scenes account of the Breast Center, she could claim success. Through her account, we learn a great deal about the unpredictable nature of the disease, the terrible decisions women must make, and the woefully imperfect weapons that doctors are equipped with. When it comes to the larger war on cancer, however, Stabiner skimps. Although she interviewed numerous government officials, clinicians, lobbyists, fund-raisers, and medical researchers, their stories seem oddly disjointed and incomplete. The changes in how breast cancer research is being funded, the search for the breast cancer gene and its therapeutic implications, the impact of managed care on breast cancer treatment--these are issues that deserve more thoughtful consideration in a work that purports to be giving the big picture. Unfortunately, Stabiner seems to be more interested in personalities than in the issues at stake here. Delivers less than it promises, but the punch it has is still a strong one.