Skip the half-baked history (Christianity repressed the natural wellsprings of feminine wisdom as ""heresy"") and paeans to the holy calling of midwifery. Beneath the fashionable polemics and rhapsodies are a lot of intelligent observations. Arms calls for the removal of childbirth from hospitals and the reinstatement of the midwife to handle most routine deliveries. She suggests (as an alternative to delivery at home) small community ""maternity centers"" staffed chiefly by midwives which preserve a relaxed, informal environment, with emergency equipment on the premises and doctors and obstetrical nurses to back up the midwives if necessary. This will be a useful book for women who want to feel less passive in dealing with obstetricians; the resourceful mother-to-be can raise some penetrating questions from the issues discussed by Arms. Others will be skeptical of the relentlessly crusading tone, and feel that the existing literature about hospital-managed natural childbirth (Marjorie Karmel, Elisabeth Bing) provides a more impartial view of the subject. Arms' uncompromisingly radical approach will do no harm at the box office.