As chairman of the Senate Select Committee that played out the drama of the Watergate uncovering on TV, former Senator Ervin has been conspicuously absent from the rolls of eyewitness recorders. He intended to remain silent, Ervin says, until he read Nixon's version of the hearings; now, he wants to set the record straight. The only problem is that the record has been straight for some time. Ervin's moment in the spotlight was a truly public moment, and since he only recounts here what went on in full view of everyone, there are no revelations--in fact, he often settles for reproducing the text of a speech, a (familiar) letter, or some other public document to express what he thought at a given time. There are no hot behind-the-scenes stories either, whether about the Committee members, its staff, or the witnesses; indeed, Ervin is careful not to say a critical word about anyone other than the conspirators and a couple of presidents. He repeats his condemnation of the Ford pardon, and otherwise saves his venom for Nixon, whom he genuinely despises for his actions. But while Ervin's even-handed comportment is becomingly preserved in print, the wit he displayed on TV is submerged here by his measured thoughts; and though there are still plenty of quotations, from Scriptures and poetry, one misses the Carolina accent. His memoirs won't tarnish the image, but they don't take us any further than we've already been with the ""country lawyer.