The author is an obstetric anesthesiologist but he includes information gathered from other professionals involved in the birth process such as labor and delivery nurses, midwives, and doulas (which the spell-check desperately wants to change to "Douglass"). The rest of the book describes methods for controlling labor pain from the ubiquitous epidural to breathing techniques, to hypnosis to nitrous oxide (really... evidently it's all the rage in Great Britain).
All I can say is: bring on the epidural. From what was written in the book and what I've heard from friends who have had children is that - because epidurals are much easier, safer, and less confining than in years past- you can have an un-medicated childbirth, but you have to really really really really really really want it. In fact, a major reason that women choose to give birth at a birth center or at home is to avoid the "temptation" of medical pain relief.
I can tell you now that I have no such dedication. With the new epidurals, you can move around and even walk around in some cases. Friends say that you experience every contraction, it just doesn't HURT anymore. And while I don't feel like I need to have it inserted before I have a single contraction, I don't feel like being in pain - especially being in screaming, swearing out of control in pain- will add anything to the birth experience. Plus the idea of laboring for many hours without pain relief and then having an episiotomy* without pain relief is truly terrifying.
So in summary, labor = painful, not easy. Epidural = good.
*Look it up (no gross pictures, but not for the faint of heart, either), then go look at your kitchen shears and tell me the thought of having that happen wouldn't keep you awake at night.