------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Face of War, by Martha Gellhorn. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. 320 pp. $8.95. The View from the Ground, by Martha Gellhorn. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. 448 pp. $8.95. A paperback original. Martha Gellhorn's courageous, independent-minded reportage breaks through geopolitical abstractions and ideological propaganda to take the reader straight to the scene of the event. Whether she is covering the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Eichmann trial, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Vietnam, Eastern Europe, or Central America, there is the same commitment to telling the truth as she has found it, the same sense of moral commitment to the value of human lives, the same fine indignation and passionate outrage at wrongdoing wherever she finds it.

``The Face of War,'' first published in 1959, has been revised and updated for this paperback edition, so that it ranges from the Spanish Civil War to the current troubles in Central America. ``The View from the Ground,'' published now for the first time, is a still more eclectic collection. It is organized by decades - the 1930s through the '80s, with a retrospective essay closing each section. It takes us from the American South in 1947 to the McCarthy hearings in 1954, to the Gaza Strip in 1961, to Castro's Cuba in the 1980s, and to a little town in Haiti where Gellhorn, a misplaced white, experienced firsthand the kind of racism so familiar to blacks. There is a harrowing account of torture in El Salvador. A lifetime of exposure to such grim realities has strengthened Gellhorn's determination to cut through cant: It has not deadened her responses or extinguished her admiration for the resilience and courage of the good people she has met in all walks of life all over the world. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Robert Adam and Kedleston: The Making of a Neo-Classical Masterpiece, by Leslie Harris, edited with a foreword by Gervase Jackson-Stops. London: Victor Gollancz/The National Trust, dist. by David & Charles, North Pomfret, Vt. 96 pp. Illustrated. $24.95.

Home of the illustrious Curzon family, Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire achieved its apotheosis in the latter half of the 18th century, largely under the direction of the famous architect and designer Robert Adam. This handsomely produced catalog of drawings - many in color - displays the comprehensiveness and detail of planning and visualization behind such an enterprise. Here are designs for buildings; for the walls, floors, and ceilings of beautifully decorated rooms; for such furnishings as an organ, a sofa, a candlestand; for stables, a bathhouse, a staircase, a tower, a temple, a boathouse, waterfalls, and a grotto. This attractive book offers a close-up view of neoclassical taste and an opportunity for those who buy it to contribute to the current appeal to help preserve Kedleston Hall, one of England's great houses. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Breach in the Wall: A Memoir of the Old China, by Enid Saunders Candlin. New York: Paragon House. 340 pp. $9.95.

Enid Candlin's father was a tea merchant in Shanghai in the years when it was a polyglot city of entrepreneurs, traders, missionaries, and refugees from all over the globe. This gracefully written, richly informative memoir takes us back to the years before World War II, when China was more open to the rest of the world. Candlin conveys a sense of the diversity of this vast country: its history, its varied climates and landscapes, its architecture, art, cities, people, and even its wildlife. Quotations from the great Chinese poets evoke atmosphere and mood.

Candlin's attitude is one of sympathy, common sense, and candor (she refuses to take the fashionable line that China was corrupted by the West; she remains skeptical about the longevity of the freedoms introduced by recent reformers). This is a particularly good book for readers not all that familiar with China: the author has filled in some basic background information. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made, by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas. New York: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. 853 pp. Illustrated. $12.95.

W. Averell Harriman, Robert Lovett, Dean Acheson, John Jay McCloy, George F. Kennan, and Charles Bohlen held assorted high offices of state, but their influence and activities behind the scenes and on various stages made the power they exerted far more than the sum of their collective - and very impressive - r'esum'es. In this immensely detailed and mostly readable tome, Time editor Walter Isaacson and Newsweek editor Evan Thomas succeed in convincing the reader that there really was an ``Establishment'' in the sphere of postwar American foreign policy. They are less convincing about the ultimate wisdom of these wise men.

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