From the former Secretary of Education, a disgruntled insider's report on life as a member of the Reagan Cabinet. Pres. Reagan made a campaign promise in 1980 to dismantle Jimmy Carter's new Department of Education--the ""thirteenth"" cabinet position of the title. In essence, Bell's memoirs are the story of his effort to keep his finger in the dike against a flood of ""movement"" conservatives who insisted on holding Reagan to his pledge. And while he succeeded through the President's entire first term--indeed, his overseeing of the National Commission on Excellence in Education report, A Nation At Risk, gained him national prominence that took the Administration by surprise, ultimately causing it to abandon the 1980 pledge in the 1984 platform--his victory was Pyrrhic, as the reigning arch-conservatives forced his resignation. Bell has gamed some recent prepublication notoriety with the revelations contained herein concerning the habit of unnamed midlevel administration officials of slurring various ethnic, racial, and sex groups during cabinet meetings. Title IX, thus, was continually referred to as ""the lesbian's bill of rights,"" while Dr. King was called ""Martin Lucifer Coon."" All else in the book, however, is tame stuff. Despite his resignation, Bell's legacy lives on in the current national concern with teacher standards, and the trend in many communities to elevate teacher salaries by merit. Less than galvanizing, but Bell's courage shines through and should prove inspiring and of interest to educators and those hungry to taste one of the first of a likely tide of Reagan Administration memoirs.