If you read no other book on health and disease, this one would be enough to give you a thorough grounding in the state of the art. The introduction states that the book was assembled ""under the aegis of The Medical Community, Inc., of Boston, which has supported biomedical and community health research since 1957."" The editors have invited experts in the Boston area to contribute separate chapters. Thus Seymour Kety writes on the biological bases of mental illness, John Merrill describes the kidneys, Herbert Abrams reports on radiology, and so on--a stellar cast not surprising for that biomedically rich area. The book describes normal function and disease processes in a variety of mutually reinforcing ways. The chapter on viral infections focuses on viruses and what can be done to counter them. Later, in the section on neurological disorders, the significance of ""slow"" viruses in several severe chronic disorders is described. In addition, the editors have provided thoughtful overviews about public health, disease patterns, and the importance of epidemiology. A not-so-hidden agenda of the book is the major role that basic research can and must play in combating disease. Freedom to pursue pure research under peer review is a necessity, says each of the authors in a different way. The last two chapters amplify these ideas--one arguing the need for balance between scientific freedom and social responsibility, the other acknowledging the information gap between the research community and the general practitioner, This excellent book, were it read by intelligent laymen and clinical professionals, would in itself go far to bridge that gap.