The anecdotal recollections of the savvy White House aide whose fortunes have taken a turn for the worse. When Deaver began preparing this selective but perceptive memoir following his 1985 departure from the White House, he was flying high. Among other advantages, he left with the blessings of an extremely popular First Family (whom he'd served for almost 20 years) and prospects for a lucrative consulting practice. At present, however, Dearer is standing trial on perjury charges (stemming from a congressional investigation into his lobbying activities), and the Reagan Administration remains hunkered down against fallout from the Iran/contra scandal. With more rue than wrath, Deaver gives his side of the federal case against him; he also provides sketchy background on personal problems--most notably, a cunningly concealed struggle against alcoholism--that Contributed to his rise and stall. The bulk of the episodic text, though, is rewardingly devoted to firsthand impressions of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. As deputy chief of staff, Deaver was primarily responsible for presenting the President and his wife in the best possible light. Against the odds, perhaps, the author offers a balanced if often facile appraisal. By Deaver's account, the key to understanding Reagan is appreciating the fact that ""he has been underestimated all his life."" Perhaps so. But the author goes on to comment that file President is not given to introspection and ""has a 1950's concept of the world."" Secure in his faith in traditional values, the easygoing Reagan is in Deaver's view ""a romantic, not an imposter."" By contrast, Nancy emerges as a far more complex, contemplative, and interesting character whose resolve has been steeled by a host of events, including an attempt on her husband's life. An intriguing rather than revelatory series of observations from a knowledgeable confidant of the Reagans, which might have benefited from a reckoning of the price Dearer paid for two decades of loyal service.