An uneven memoir by a heavy hitter on the Washington social circuit, packed with anecdotes about the powerful and famous, but strangely evasive about the author herself. ""I'm so average,"" Braden writes, ""Average looks, average intelligence. . .average ambition."" So how, then, did this Indiana native make her way to the red-hot center of the social whirl? It started, perhaps, when at age 23 she called Nelson Rockefeller, whom she'd met once, and landed a job as one of his assistants. She and Nelson became very close over the years (although she rebuffed him the time he climbed into a shower after her), and she married one of his protâ€šgâ€šs, writer Tom Braden. The couple shuttled between Washington and California and had eight children. Joan worked for H.E.W., on both Jack and Bobby Kennedy's presidential campaigns, with the Nixon State Department. And she made a series of high-profile friends: Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, many of the Kennedys, Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara, and more. The parties, protocol breaches, and character snapshots here are interesting enough. But Braden doesn't give a full enough picture of herself or what she values to make us care much about her point of view. And the sex questions keep intruding. She says on more than one occasion that she thinks trust is more important than monogamy in a marriage. ""If I want to consort with another man, I do,"" she announces. She keeps referring to the media-engendered gossip that surrounds her friendships with men, but she's very cagey on what--if anything--actually happened with whom. Again and again, she sets up the question, then begs off; this delicacy is particularly irritating given that she more freely spells out others' indiscretions. In all, though, this is an easy read with enough low-grade dish to divert even casual Washington watchers.