Arts and Entertainment

Private Alex Stringer, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was 20 when he was blown up in Afghanistan: "The reason I lost my left leg so high up is because the burning paint cooked my left leg all the way down to the bone. But if I hadn't set myself on fire, I would have bled out and died – as a result of it, all the arteries became cauterised".

Faith & Reason: A need for compassion but a need to condemn

As two nations wait for the judgment on Louise Woodward, what are we praying for, justice or mercy? Huw Spanner wonders if there is a choice.

Greene burnt his fingers in US cash scam

The novelist Graham Greene (right) lost huge sums of money in a money- laundering racket run by the Hollywood mafia which led to him living in tax exile after an "agreement" with the Inland Revenue, according to a controversial new biography.

THEATRE Love and Understanding Bush Theatre, London

'I wish I had a friend like me," proclaims Richie in Joe Penhall's new play Love and Understanding. It's sad to say that this is a minority sentiment. Richie is to friendship what nemesis is to a relaxing holiday. Charismatically portrayed by Paul Bettany, he's a decadent, self-deceived drifter, who has spent the best part of his twenties bumming around the world in search of instant kicks and pretending to be a brooding Graham Greene creation.

Blunt weapons of the homintern

THE UNTOUCHABLE by John Banville Picador pounds 15.99

Taste: Fantasy book league

The winner of the pounds 150-worth of books from The Folio Society will be announced next weekend. The challenge: to name the best books of the last fifty years. Is this the line up which will coincide closest to the top ten nominated by literary editor Boyd Tonkin?

Reed-Elsevier sells book division

The Anglo-Dutch publishing group Reed-Elsevier said yesterday it had agreed to sell the adult trade division of Reed Books to publisher Random House. It gave no financial details but said it intends to sell the rest of Reed Books in due course, which comprises the children's, illustrated and reference divisions.

Greene papers for sale: dossier on a perfect spy

The most important private archive of works relating to the author Graham Greene is to go up for auction in what will be one of the biggest literary sales of the year.

The book you meant to read; The Quiet American (1955) by Graham Greene

Plot: Set in Vietnam during the French occupation, the novel is narrated by Thomas Fowler, a middle-aged English journalist. The action circles around the murder of Alden Pyle "the Quiet American". He works for the Economic Aid Mission. At once innocent, naive and ignorant he believes religiously in the American way of democracy: as a result he is entangled in guerilla politics, backing the terrorist General The against the French. Pyle also falls for Fowler's girlfriend Phuong (Phoenix). He offers her the chance of marriage. Even though Fowler's distaste for Pyle intensifies, he finds himself dragged into the American's political conspiracies. A bomb explodes in a cafe causing injury and death. Fowler knows that Pyle was involved and, concluding that he must be stopped, betrays him. Pyle is killed with a rusty bayonet. The crime is investigated by Vigot, a vigilant detective familiar with Pascal. Phuong returns to Fowler. He cannot decide whether his act of betrayal was motivated by political necessity or personal malice.

Dear Woo, My dear Nancy; a trove of letters comes to light

Rock 'n' roll and the Suez crisis were just round the corner. But in the fading days of Britain's empire letters written by two of the country's best-known novelists show high society refused to let the old ways and the old days go peacefully.

Book review / Creaky bedsprings and a saxophonist's dream

Four Last Things by William Palmer Secker, pounds 12.99

Draft notebook holds untraced Spender poems

A canvas notebook containing three apparently unpublished poems by Sir Stephen Spender is to go on sale at the end of this month.

Leading Article: Sacking comes to the world of George Smiley

It would never have happened in Smiley's day. Then, spies disgruntled and disaffected with the secret service that employed them fought back by selling secrets to the enemy. Treason, they called it. But it was all done away from the glare of publicity. Between friends who were enemies, and all that. In the eyes of those secretive establishment patriarchs, the Nineties strategy for the disaffected spy will seem an even greater betrayal. One sacked spy wants to take MI6 to the European Court of Human Rights with a claim for unfair dismissal.

BOOKS : PAPERBACKS

! Konin: A Quest by Theo Richmond, Vintage pounds 8.99. The Jewish settlement at Konin, the town of Theo Richmond's ancestors, was among the first to be established in Poland during the Middle Ages. And in 1939 it became one of the first to receive the attentions of the invading Nazis, when in an appalling sweep the entire community was displaced and sent to perish in the camps. Only a few survived. This book is virtually a recreation of the place: streets, buildings, population carefully reassembled piece by piece from painstakingly researched records and living memory. It is an amazing act of obsessional homage, of mourning, even, but Richmond's sense of obligation to the past doesn't obscure the modern relevance.

OBITUARY: Desmond Shawe-Taylor

Chief Music Critic of the Sunday Times for a quarter of a century, without any formal musical training, Desmond Shawe- Taylor belonged to a generation of hard-working and inspired amateurs who learnt their trade as they went along.

TAKING THE LONG VIEW; BOOKS

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How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
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The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
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Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

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Blackest is the new black

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Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

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Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

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Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

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Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
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Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

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Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

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Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

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The Open 2014

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