Essays on various aspects of South Africa today, by Newsweek's bureau chief there who, in 1986, was expelled from the country as a result of his hard-hitting reports on that volatile society. Manning manages to get into the homes of Afrikaner postal clerks and blue-collar types--typical Afrikaners, whom Alan Paton called ""a people of rock and stone in a land of rock and stone."" Unfortunately, Manning usually found that ""arguing politics with an Afrikaner was like talking geography with the Flat Earth Society."" The author's essays are perceptive, even though he irksomely relies on a fellow reporter to pound the point home. (After one interview, Manning's cohort growls, ""That was a waste of fucking time. That wanker didn't know a thing."") Some of the most pointed commentary describes the various tortures extant in the country. One black in Soweto tells how authorities tied twine around his testicles while he squatted, tied the other end to bricks, then forced him to stand. Then, of course, there is the notorious ""necklace,"" a series of automobile tires that are placed over a prisoner's body, soaked with gasoline, and then set afire. One of the most riveting essays introduces, for one of the first times, members of the radical violent black youth movement known as ""the Comrades,"" who execute alleged black moderates via ""the necklace."" Manning is at his best, shock and horror aside, when he analyzes the polilitcal ramifications of African affairs. In one superb essay, he explains the connections between the Angolan Civil War and the South African question. ""If Russia is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, as Churchill said, then Africa is a mysterious circle made up of intersecting lines. . .something is always a part of another story."" One of the most readable books to come out of the tense South African situation, and one likely to raise eyebrows. Manning hews to no ideological line, a virtue in a subject torn by posturing.