By way of introduction and (redundant) bridging, Sixty Minutes' spokeswoman Shana Alexander reviews her rise from anonymity as a Life researcher to first-person(ality) status as a columnist, editor, and commentator--talking, as she readily admits, ""only about whatever interested me personally."" Her ""all-time favorite assignment""--basis of one of the longer selections here--was attending the birth of Packy, the first zoo-born elephant in the US; she spent seven years, off and on, coaxing a few quotes from Brando; and far from ""nailing"" Helen Gurley Brown, as her editors thought, she became good friends with the woman who ""met Destiny as the brilliant editor of Cosmopolitan."" She's bullish about Bronx boychik Tony Curtis (interviewed in 1961); female-smart on Lurleen, George, and Cornelia Wallace; and aimless as an editorialist. (Hearing that Newsweek owner Kay Graham was unhappy with her Watergate pieces, she sought and got an answer: ""Thumbsucking, Shana, is not what's needed""--a remark that, with its explanation, took some guts to quote.) But lots of the talk is about Shana, which won't hurt the book with the audience for whom she is less a writer than a name.