This is the account of what happened in Ward 402 -- the pediatrics ward of a university hospital -- when Mary Berquam, a youngster, was brought there to die ""sedated and painless"" by her parents. Deliberately. Glasser was an intern then still with his dream of the doctor as the man in white on a white charger; McMillan, the resident, knew more about the limitations of medicine and the fallibilities of their superior, Prader, an eminent hematologist set on furthering his leukemia project with its ""protocol"" of medications. But Prader is a powerful persuader who talks the Berquams into permitting treatment for Mary even though he shortchanges her in the interests of protocol; for McMillan and Glasser it's another story -- giving up on a patient is something they can't accept while death in this world of the dying remains unacknowledged even when all you can buy is time. Mary picks up for two weeks and then meningitis sets in and she bleeds into her skin and into her brain. As Mrs. Berquam says ""This isn't a real life, is it"" while Berquam, an agitator, sets in play the mutinous episodes which will take place. . . . Glasser, using the techniques of the New Journalism, has based this story on actual events even where they have been rearranged and synthesized -- all in the interests of sharpening the conflicts -- scientific versus humane, dedicated versus self-serving -- with all those values and priorities which don't show up in a culture or a sed rate. It is an immobilizing drama -- you will not leave Ward 402 where a little girl, a special little girl, by the way, lies, hooked to a respirator. An infinitely involving book -- imperative you might say -- shafted with hard questions and dusty answers concerning the need to live and the right to die.