Books: The Speaker Speaks His Mind MAN OF THE HOUSE

by Tip O'Neill with William Novak Random House; 387 pages; $19.95

Some political memoirs provide detailed inside accounts of major events, usually in ways that defend the author's historic role and wisdom. Others are more philosophical, reflecting on the lessons of a lifetime's dalliance with history. And then there are those that are amiable siftings through memory's scrapbook, in which the author recounts tales about people and places as if he were holding court over a few beers.

In Man of the House, Tip O'Neill takes the last approach, figuratively pulling up a chair at Barry's Corner, his old hangout in Cambridge, Mass., and regaling the reader with a string of let-me-tell-you-about-the-time...