The memoirs of the veteran Republican leader, set down by the Washington Bureau chief of the New York Herald Tribune, make uncommonly meatless reading. The blacksmith's son from North Attleboro, Mass., is bitter about his ouster last year at 74 as House Minority Leader and says so. According to Martin, the new leader, Charles Halleck, had hungered for years to take over and ""moved in for the kill"" as soon as the old bull dropped his horns; the White House turned its back and cronies deserted in droves. There is a good description (already published in the Saturday Evening Post) of the 1940 Wendell Willkie convention. But otherwise it all seems as colorless as a career in the farm implement business. Martin has his opinions: FDR was the shrewdest politician among Presidents; Hoover could have been reelected in 1932 if the GOP had come out for legal beer and wine; MacArthur could have had the presidential nomination in 1952 if he'd fought for it; Truman should never have let the atomic bombs be dropped on a near-defeated Japan, and Eisenhower has failed even to try to strengthen the Republicans as a party. Like any fireman who has eyed the shiny red car outside the firehouse, Martin admits to having harbored thoughts that ""it would be nice to be chief"", but he denies ever really succumbing to the presidential bug.