A serious illness may bring other events into focus. This book is about the circumstances surrounding an illness which struck a man in middle life, its impact on him and on the people of his West Sepik village. It records both failure and continuing belief the failure of local treatments,Western medicine, and of a great communal effort to bring a spirit to heal him. The issues of distress, isolation in illness, and the hope of relief are universal ones, but in this setting in New Guinea they have to be placed in a framework of tentative explanations because of the harsh materialconditions. To follow the course of this man's illness is to see how illness can reshape events and test social ties. The book unfolds a social drama, as it traces people's anxieties, the pressure upon them to take immediate action to try to remedy the situation, and their growing realization thatthey have failed.Through the text runs the problem of hope and belief in healing.