Contemporary medicine is clearly in a crisis, one brought on by technological miracles that have far outpaced our moral, legal and cultural responses to them. One needs only to glance at the morning newspapers to see the evidence: doctor-assisted suicides, litigation over the custody of artificially conceived children, ""more"" litigation over vegetative maintenance of otherwise ""dead"" people, the health insurance system run amok, and so on. In fact, Kaufman begins with a gallery of these clippings, each covering moral complexities virtually unimaginable a generation ago. We seem to have lost the connection, once obvious, between what medicine does and what it ""should"" do, and it is the quest to recapture that connection that ""The Healer's Tale"" pursues. Kaufman's search for answers leads her to seven of the country's most eminent physicians, each now in his or her 80s and each, therefore, a living historian and practitioner of medicine during its transformation. Through the stories of their careers we begin to learn how the ordinary general physicians of 70 years ago have become today's scientific specialists, how they have responded to these changes, and what their hopes and concerns are regarding the profession's current directions. Because these are real, personal stories, told by some of American medicine's most accomplished practitioners, ""The Healer's Tale"" offers a directly engaging experience for the reader. We come to know and appreciate these doctors as people with deep concerns about the basic issues of health and illness, about medicine's responsibilities to society, and about the meaning (literally, in this case) of life: what are its origins and ends and who controls them?