This is the first of a pending three-volume autobiography generally radiating a surprising affability as well as the mutton chop solidity of the elderly Britishman -- Muggeridge is now seventy -- in bis club chair. One of those ""vendors of words,"" Muggeridge has devoted most of his life to their single pursuit as journalist, commentator, editor and also cataloguer of what others have said or thought. From his father he inherited his ""gift of gab"" as well as an ""abounding. . . ego"" and he grew up in a Socialist household although it was only after his marriage to Kitty Dobbs that he moved into the upper Fabian-Liberal circle of say the Webbs, close friends. When Muggeridge is writing about places he's at his best: namely the time he spent, after Cambridge, teaching in a Church College in India; and the great adventure when he went to Russia for the Guardian which was to end in reversal and disillusionment -- ""sleepwalking to the end of the night."" Muggeridge as might be expected is still given to the unfounded generalization (""it is difficult to think of a single contemporary American writer of any note who is not either an alcoholic or on the way to becoming one"") or patronizing aspersion (""poor Huxley"" or Hemingway with that ""self-made hole in bis head. . . only shot he ever fired that found its target"") but occasionally he's witty too: ""There is no surer way of preserving the worst aspects of bourgeois style than liquidating the bourgeoisie; whatever else Stalin may, or may not, have done, he assuredly made Russia safe for the Forsyte Saga."" Muggeridge's chronicle (too encumbered with referrals) has none of the subdued charm, or innate fluency, of say V. S. Pritchett's, but age has trimmed the edges of what was a too deliberate contentiousness and an iconoclasm often indulged for its own sake. Now he seems more at ease in the world where he claims he was ""never at home"" and the record sets down the busy continuity of his days in it.