i

Many of us will have booked our holidays by now and bought the sun-cream too. But what to read under the palm tree or on the beach or the staycation sofa?

Past glory: Erdogan speaks, backed by portraits of himself and Ataturk, earlier this month

How Turkey blew its chance to lead this troubled region

World View: The country could have enhanced its influence and saved a lot of lives. It did the exact opposite

A man is treated after the gas attack of 21 August

Gas missiles 'were not sold to Syria'

Export papers seem to back Assad's denial over sarin attack – but Russians won't go into detail

Saif Gaddafi, son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, missed a court hearing

Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, misses court date after Libyan militia fail to transfer him

The son of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi missed a court hearing today after the militia holding him refused to send him to the capital, Tripoli, underscoring the weakness of the central government after the country’s civil war.

A Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus

Robert Fisk in Damascus: Assad's troops may be winning this war in Syria's capital - untouched by Obama's threats

Dispatch from Damascus: The killing fields remain, and truth is as rare as hope

Sir Trevor McDonald has said that he will never do another TV series on prisoners because the experience has been so difficult.

Sir Trevor McDonald: I am never, ever, doing another prison series

Veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald has said that he will never do another TV series on prisoners because the experience has been so difficult.

Billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed values Twitter at $15bn but doubts from the market remain

Billionaire investor Alwaleed bin Talal has given a public vote of confidence in microblogging site Twitter’s upcoming IPO, stating that he does not intend to sell any of his shares in the site when it hits the market.

In the game: Vladimir Putin’s Russia is resurgent just as Barack Obama’s US has become weaker

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have put Russia back on the top table

World View: Deal in Geneva shows the Kremlin’s influence is at its greatest for more than 20 years

Voters on verge of expelling Australia’s ‘nastiest’ MP

Postal and absentee votes are still being counted, but Sophie Mirabella seems almost certain of losing her seat in northern Victoria

Alastair Campbell says he is still in regular touch with Tony Blair

Alastair Campbell reveals offer to work on behalf of Syrian government to improve its global image

Assad regime once sought help with its publicity from former No 10 director of communications

Syria crisis: David Cameron defends 'strong stance' over chemical weapon attack

PM says proposal by Russia to send inspectors to seize arms would not have happened without the determination to stand up to Assad regime

Libya: Car bomb hits foreign ministry in Benghazi

A powerful car bomb exploded Wednesday near Libya's Foreign Ministry building in the heart of the eastern coastal city of Benghazi, security officials said, exactly one year after an attack there killed the US ambassador and three other Americans.

Samuel Eto’o

International retirement riddle for Cameroon and Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o

The Cameroon coach, Volke Finke, has refused to confirm reports that Samuel Eto’o has retired from international football.

An explosion killed the military prosecutor Yussef Ali al-Asseifar in Benghazi last week

Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin

Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi

David Cameron speaks during the debate on Syria

Ignore talk of Cameron's 'humiliation'. It's public opinion on Syria that really matters

Yesterday’s vote on Syria was certainly evidence of poor judgement on the part of the PM, but it may not be as damaging as it first appears

Protesters gather outside the Houses of Parliament yesterday

Anti-war campaigners prepare for substantial weekend protest over Syria

Stop the War Coalition claim thousands will march, echoing Iraq demonstrations of 2003

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'