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Vidya Charan Shukla, who died after being shot in an ambush by Maoist rebels, was a lifelong Indian politician who repeatedly changed parties to suit his fortunes. While he was steadfastly loyal to prime minister Indira Gandhi, his primary allegiance was to himself.

OBITUARIES: Joseph Heller

JOSEPH HELLER once told his friend and fellow author Kurt Vonnegut that, if it weren't for the Second World War, he'd be in the dry-cleaning business. He wasn't referring only to his wartime experiences - which provided the material for his satirical novel Catch-22 - but also to the opportunity the GI Bill gave a working-class kid from Coney Island to get a college education after the war. Paradoxically - and Heller was a master of paradox - the author of one of the greatest anti-war novels ever written often insisted that, everything considered, he had had a "good" and even "enjoyable" war.

Joseph Heller, master of black satire, dies at 76

JOSEPH HELLER, who achieved worldwide fame with his 1961 anti- war novel Catch-22, about the lunacies of the United States military in the Second World War, has died aged 76. His wife, Valerie, said he had a heart attack on Sunday at their home in East Hampton on Long Island.

Classical: Welcome to the apocalypse

BRODSKY QUARTET ST GEORGE'S BRISTOL

`He told me he got Martin Sheen to block the shots'

Terrence Malick was a notorious loner. But when he wanted help with a running movie he turned to the British producer Leslie Woodhead

'Born again' Charlie Sheen suffers drug overdose

ONLY a year after declaring that he was shedding his bad-boy lifestyle and had found religion, actor Charlie Sheen was yesterday recovering in a Los Angeles hospital from a reported drugs overdose.

Interview: Just a roll, no baloney

Joseph Heller's memoir glows with nostalgia for his Coney Island childhood. But the old master of satire has not gone soft, he tells John Walsh. Photograph by Jonathan Torgovnik

Film: Tired of burning in hell? The devil may care

Spawn Mark Dippe (12)

Apocalypse now for Gas shareholders

The Investment Column

FILM / Heroes don't wear beards: Gettysburg (PG); City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (12); Faust; Abraham Valley (PG)

RONALD F MAXWELL'S Gettysburg (PG) is a Big Film about a Big Issue: the massacre in the wheat fields of Pennsylvania that halted the advance of the southern Rebel army three years into the American Civil War. Liberty triumphed; a modern nation state was born. More than 150,000 men trudged into battle and tens of thousands perished. The film fakes it with 5,000 re-enaction freaks, who occasionally look at the camera but kept the budget down by bringing their own fancy dress.

TELEVISION REVIEW / It's a simple tale of boy meets trash

THE FIRST part of Final Justice (BBC 1) began with, displayed across the screen, the legend essential to all made-for-television mini-series of the kind that fur up the end-of-summer schedules: 'The following is based on a true story.' It wasn't until almost at the end of last night's dreary episode that it became clear precisely on which true story this twaddle was based.
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