What are the best practices for recreating real conversations for memoir writing?

I am writing a book in which I attempt to reconstruct some conversations I had in person with real people, some of whom are public officials. I am considering sending the conversation text to the officials to see if they strongly disagree with my memory and or suggest any reasonable tweaks. Yet, I don’t want to surrender my right to share it as I remember it. What do I do if they insist they said something different? Any suggestions?

Can an author get in trouble for publishing a statement that is accurate to the best of their recollection?

My first recommendation would be to disguise the identities of the others, just enough to provide a fig-leaf of protection against a lawsuit. The standard boilerplate clause, “Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental” is used for a very good reason.

(Also, they can only win a suit if your depiction of them is defamatory and untrue…but even lawsuits with no merit are expensive to defend against.)

If you do send a draft to someone, to ask if the recollection is accurate, be prepared for all sorts of difficulties. Some will say, “You may not use my name or likeness.”

Some will say, “That never happened at all.”

Some will say, “Oh, you got it completely wrong.”

Some will say, “That’s close to right, but you’re unfairly characterizing me as having been obstructionist when it was you who was being a jerk.”

There are so many ways this can become ugly, and a simple bit of obscuration solves it all. “When dealing with Mr. S_________ at the Coal and Gas Company…”