Arts and Entertainment

Adam Foulds’s last novel, The Quickening Maze, was a truly superb study in madness and early psychiatric methods, combining the intellectual and the visceral in often startling ways (few will forget his description of the “dismantling” of a deer). In this latest work, he retains that powerful blend and focuses on another kind of madness: the madness of war.

Italian and US police arrest 80 in strike at heart of the Mafia

Police in Italy and the FBI in New York have arrested dozens of alleged gangsters belonging to the most notorious Sicilian crime families in a closely co-ordinated international operation.

You write the reviews: Much Ado About Nothing, NT: Olivier, London

Much Ado about Nothing is one of Shakespeare's great comedies. It bubbles with mirth until the false denouncement of Hero causes it to wallow in a bit of melodrama, but soon after matters are resolved; laughter is restored and happiness, in the shape of a double wedding, takes place, followed by music and dancing.

Volcanic eruptions: On a visit to Mount Etna, Anna Pavord finds pistachio trees and orange groves flourishing amid barely cold flows of lava

Our sailing holiday this year took us to the Aeolian islands, off the north coast of Sicily. What could the ancient Greeks, who settled the islands around 580BC, have made of Stromboli, heaving fire and lava from its peak? We went out in a local boat one rich, still night and watched the bulk of the mountain as it rumbled and rolled with a noise like a tube train in a distant tunnel. The sea that night was still, oily and black, the sky equally dark but thick with stars, the huge smudgy path of the Milky Way making an arch over our heads. It seemed as if the volcano was holding its breath, then bursting with the effort, lighting the sky with its exhaling gasps. "Arriva!" shouted the boatman each time it blew. Then the orange hot colours faded and we watched small balls of fire roll down the mountain's flanks, flaring and dying as they fell.

Israel raises nuclear stakes with Iran

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, dramatically raised the stakes in the international showdown with Iran last night, with a clear warning that his country was prepared to use military force to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Professor Keith Miller

Explorer and fatigue engineer

A Sultan In Palermo, by Tariq Ali

Too much bed-hopping, and not enough historical detail

Something To Declare: British invasion of Berlin; West Nile Fever; Italian connections

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The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
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After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
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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
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas