Boyd Tonkin

Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.

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Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria

Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Writers George Orwell, Laurie Lee and John Cornford - along with 2,300 other British volunteers - took up arms in the Spanish Civil War. But Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has since made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"

Crowds in London celebrate the end of hostilities in 1918

A History of the First World War in 100 moments: After 1,560 days, at the eleventh hour, the guns fall silent – but for how long?

The conclusion of the ‘war to end all  wars’ was greeted with understandable jubilation. But, writes Boyd Tonkin, new storm clouds were already gathering

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, Nawara Mahfoud - book review: A moving testimony to dissidents fighting for democracy

Can finger-puppets strangle a bloodthirsty dictatorship? The dissident artists of the Masasit Mati group began to use the tiny caricatures who populate their satirical series Top Goon because they were easy to transport, and therefore to smuggle. An internet cult after the Syrian uprising started in earnest in 2011, with more than a million YouTube and Facebook hits, Top Goon mocked Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen in merciless Spitting Image style, with episodes such as "Who Wants to Kill a Million?" and "Skyping Putin".

The Golden Age of Dutch art has inspired writers from Marcel Proust to Donna Tartt

Just as Tracy Chevalier pilfered Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' and Proust purloined the artist's 'View of Delft', so Donna Tartt appropriated Fabritius's 'The Goldfinch' – set to be Booker-longlisted this week – as her inspiration. But what is it about the Golden Age of Dutch art that so enthrals novelists? Boyd Tonkin travels to the Mauritshuis museum, home to these three masterpieces and many more, to see for himself
Tilbury in Essex has been transformed into Grimsby in Sacha Baron Cohen's production

What did Grimsby do to deserve Sacha Baron Cohen?

The creative elite has allegedly turned with vicious malice on the very people whom their artistic forefathers used to hail as decent and dauntless

The Last Lover by Can Xue, trans. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, book review

While his wife Maria weaves intricate tapestries whose design feels like "dropping into an abyss", Joe manages the Rose Clothing Company in a Western nation known as "Country A".

Novelist David Mitchell has published a short story on Twitter

‘Cloud Atlas’ author David Mitchell unveils his latest story on Twitter

David Mitchell has taken to Twitter to publish a short piece of fiction in daily segments

Is tackling child abuse in the courts the best solution?

The "moral entrepreneurs" who cash in on child abuse

Instead of listening to manipulative zealots, we need an inquiry into how we can make sure children are kept safe

Rich web of reminiscence: Erwin Mortier

While The Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier; Trans. Paul Vincent, book review

Redemption of war-torn memories

Boyd Tonkin becomes a Google Glass ‘explorer’ with his Glass guide Alice Cabon and tries out the wearable computer in London

Google Glass is here, but the view is more invalid than cyborg...

For £1,000, you can now sport the technology that promises to transform our lives, or destroy personal privacy, depending on your lookout

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Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game