Cover stories: Madeleine Albright; Mario Testino; Another Day in Paradise; PD James and Ruth Rendell

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The Independent Culture

Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, has been much in evidence this week as she promoted her memoir, Madam Secretary. On Monday, her publishers Macmillan fêted her at Claridges, with no fewer than three former Foreign Secretaries (David Owen, Douglas Hurd and Robin Cook) in attendance. A more surprising face was that of Richard Cohen, once Jeffrey Archer's amanuensis. He was drafted in to work as Albright's editor and taught her that "less is more". Albright reveals that at the annual gatherings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, every delegation had to perform a song-and-dance routine involving its foreign minister. In 1997, the US embassy in Malaysia decreed that Secretary Albright would sing a version of "Mary had a little lamb", but the star turn decided that "the song was just not me". So she recast Evita's big number and took the stage with a flower in her hair.

* Mario Testino, one of Diana's favourite photographers, is publishing a little book of which the princess would surely approve. Kids collects more than 100 portraits of children whom Testino has met on his travels, and "captures a magical world which we can all remember". The diminutive £9.99 hardback (a signed limited edition costs £100) is in memory of his brother, who died young from cancer. All proceeds will go to Sargent Cancer Care, which works with child patients.

* In a week when Red Cross workers died in Baghdad, Earthscan has published a collection of stories from international aid workers. Another Day in Paradise brings together front-line testimony from Afghanistan, Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia and the Gaza Strip - places where the best and the worst of humanity is on display - gathered by the journalist Carol Bergman, herself a child of refugees from genocide. John le Carré's foreword pays tribute to a group of people "self-humbling in the face of monstrous disaster", who suppress "useless pity in favour of doing something practical".

* Here's a star turn if ever there was one - two, in fact. PD James and Ruth Rendell, who both combine crime writing with duties in the Lords, are the guest speakers at an evening in aid of the Landmark Trust. The event, on 3 November, takes place at Christie's in King Street, London SW1, and also features an auction in aid of Clavell Tower, a listed building on the Dorset coast for which the Trust is trying to raise funds - some £500,000 - to deal with erosion by weather and sea. The £25 ticket price includes champagne and canapés and bookings can be made on 01628 825920.

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