NONFICTION The Web of Disinformation: Churchill's Yugoslav Blunder, by David Martin (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $29.95). This is a history of one of the murkier episodes of World War II: Churchill's December 1943 decision to support the communist partisans led by Josef Tito in German-occupied Yugoslavia at the expense of the monarchist, noncommunist forces led by Gen. Draza Mihailovic. In a brief, bloody civil war, the partisans used arms supplied by the Allies to defeat the Mihailovic forces, an act the author believes to be a betrayal of democratic principles. He further alleges that Churchill's decision was encouraged by members of the Cambridge spy net that included Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt and even names one James Klugman as the famous missing "fifth man." Students of Serbian politics will relish this account, though it should be noted that the subject is a contentious one. Trial by Fire: A Woman Correspondent's Journey to the Frontline, by Kathleen Barnes (Thunder's Mouth Press, $19.95). After a late start -- she took up journalism at the age of 35 -- Kathleen Barnes has risen quickly to full acceptance in the male-dominated milieu of foreign correspondence. She has reported from Belfast and Manila, for ABC News and Newsweek. In her preface to this autobiography she confronts the touchy issue of whether a woman reports differently from a man and concludes that she and her female colleagues emphasize "people, feelings, fears" over forces and numbers. The Trouble with Harry Hay: Founder of the Modern Gay Movement, by Stuart Timmons (Alyson, $19.95). In 1950 Harry Hay helped found the Mattachine Society, "the underground organization acknowledged by historians as the starting point of the modern gay movement." Later, however, the uncompromising Hay parted company with those who believe that gays and lesbians are just like everyone else except for the detail of their sexual orientation. Hay takes the position that gay sensibility is quite different from "straight" -- and worth cultivating and celebrating as such; for that purpose he has helped launch another gay group, the Radical Faeries. Now in his eighties, he is the subject of this full-length biography. Suddenly: The American Idea Abroad and At Home, 1986-1990, by George F. Will (Free Press, $19.95). One thing about columnist George Will: Whatever political tack he takes in a column, the prose will be unfailingly felicitous. This collection of columns is no exception. Surveying the collapse of communism abroad and the stagnation of government at home, Will hits some verbal homers: "Denouncing the French Revolution is indeed like preaching a sermon to an earthquake" and "ATLANTA -- Like drunks deciding to go on a last bender before going on the wagon, Democrats here divided their time between praising sobriety and drinking their favorite brand of demon rum, old liberalism." FROM THE POST
Mann for All Seasons: Wit and Wisdom from The Washington Post's Judy Mann, by Judy Mann (MasterMedia, $19.95). Columnist Judy Mann writes about the way we live now. So this collection of her Post columns from the last decade deals with divorce, sex, single parents, working parents, latchkey children, child support, rape, battered wives, child abuse -- the sort of things our parents might have talked about in whispers. Mann talks about them out loud, often in tones of anger and indignation for the brutality inflicted on the helpless. Although she's achieved a national reputation as a writer on women's issues, it may be more accurate to say that she writes about families. "We are entering a period in which we can turn our attention back to our communities and our homes," she asserts. "This means paying more than lip service to the American family, something both political parties have been doing without producing much in the way of results. Above all, it means doing something we have never done in this country: that is, to create an environment that is genuinely family friendly. That would be the ultimate prize of the modern women's movement." Not all is high policy; one of the most readable columns begins with the kind of phone call every parent fears: "Mrs. Mann? . . . your son has been hit by a car." It develops that the boy was okay, but the incident leads to a discussion of bike helmets and childhood injuries. That's often the Mann way: building from the specific to the general.