Christopher Hirst

Christopher Hirst is an award-winning food writer and freelance journalist.

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The Valley by Richard Benson, book review: A social and personal history of mining

Having scored a bestseller with The Farm, a closely observed account of his father and brother losing an uphill battle on the Yorkshire Wolds, Benson swaps rural for industrial and skips back a generation in The Valley. Covering a century in the ravaged Dearne Valley near Doncaster, this epic panorama of mining life focuses on Benson's maternal grandparents, Harry "Juggler" Hollingworth and his wife Winnie. Fortunately for both reader and author, they turn out to be good company on this marathon, intriguing oddities with curious lives beyond the colliery.

Extinct way of life: miner John Pearce finishing his shift at Armthorpe colliery near Doncaster, in 1947
The celebrity chef Clarissa Dickson Wright, who has died at the age of 66

Clarissa Dickson Wright dead: Appreciation - we’ve lost our foremost advocate of wholesome, hearty, British fare

One of her dishes was called Bugger Blair, as a protest against the ban on fox hunting

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun; Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn by N.A.Pickford, book reviews

Two murder cases that proved a sensation in their day are expertly dissected

Gravity's Engines, By Caleb Scharf: Book review

This surprisingly gripping book from the director of Columbia University's Astrobiology Centre concerns "the most extraordinary and bizarre characteristics of nature".

The Allure of Chanel, By Paul Morand: Book review

This handsome edition will make the perfect Christmas gift for the fashionista if only for the sexy illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld.

Seen behind the Scene, By Mary Ellen Mark: Book review

These glorious black-and-white spreads from 40 years of photographing on set undermine Godard's "Photography is truth. Cinema is truth 24 times a second."

The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination, By Lamar Waldron: Book review

All but Grassy Knoll obsessives will sigh, "Not another conspiracy theory", but this epic investigation is going to be "a major motion picture" starring DiCaprio and De Niro.

Fascist Voices, By Christopher Duggan: Book review

The banality of evil, spoken in its own voice

The Mystery of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley - book review

Life of a royal rebel spiced up by secrets and scandals

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Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

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From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
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Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

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Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

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The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

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Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own