Dr. May brooks no nonsense on the part of the public or the profession. Borrowing a leaf from Illich's Medical Nemesis, the Harvard-trained internist inveighs against a public grown too passive and doctor dependent, as well as colleagues whose cupidity, ego, or anxiety makes them ever-ready with the knife, the CAT scan, the prescription pad. His descriptions of the many specialities are often brusque or cynical. On radiologists: ""the work is interesting, the hours short, and the pay good. . . exposure was once. . . a. . . deterrent. . . but better equipment and the use of trained technicians to take the films have significantly reduced the hazard."" May instructs the reader on how best to report symptoms and history. He lectures on how to take care of yourself through a judicious lifestyle and how to do-it-yourself when faced with common complaints such as back pain, constipation, fever, hiccups. Reasons for seeing a doctor should be consciously thought out, explicitly stated. Chapters on drugs, on surgery, on serious and life-threatening illness, speak of the risks and benefits of forms of treatment, the wisdom of seeking second opinions, and repeat the theme of the need for individuals to take an active role in their own health care. May wrestles with social policy and problems in a concluding discussion on medical fees, the use of paraprofessionals, drug company morality, misuse of hospitals. Not much soothing laying on of hands here; in fact too testy by half. Nonetheless, sound advice on coping: with self, doctors, the whole medical scene.