Arts and Entertainment

Some authors vanish in plain sight, recalled by their most successful work, which comes to define an entire career. A friend of mine has written mytho-logies, Victoriana, crime and magical realism, but publishers are unable to mention her without inserting the title of her greatest success into her name, in the way that pantomime stars are bracketed by their TV shows. Typecasting is a problem that afflicts most successful writers.

The King by Kader Abdolah; book review

A boy enters a palace of a hundred rooms where an assassin may lurk behind every door and shadowy figures are reflected in a Hall of Mirrors.  An astonishing treasure lies at its heart, but powerful enemies are at the gates.

Glory and B*llocks, By Colin Brown - paperback review

Colin Brown investigates 10 defining events in British history – such as the signing of Magna Carta, the Battle of Agincourt, Queen Elizabeth I’s pre-Armada speech to the troops at Tilbury, and the Falklands war – and explores the truth behind the myth. Magna Carta was not a charter for individual liberty, but a concession wrung from King John to protect the privileges of the barons. Our view of it owes much to the way it was used in the 17th century by Edward Coke to challenge Charles I’s claim to rule by Divine Right, and the fact that it was an inspiration for the American Declaration of Independence.

The Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy. Millions of years ago the pale peaks and pinnacles of the Dolomites lay on the seabed; now they are among the world’s most distinctive mountainscapes.

Breathtaking images from the 'Lonely Planet's Beautiful World' book

The Lonely Planet has published a new book showcasing beauty from across the globe. From a cityscape of Manhattan, New York to a sprawling aerial shot of the Lake District, the Lonely Planet's Beautiful World has a selection of amazing images celebrating the vibrancy and diversity of the world.

Thomas Cook seeks new heartland

Travel group Thomas Cook today unveiled a new “sunny heart” logo and the simple message “Let’s Go” in a major rebranding, but some observers warned that it looked “bland” and could lead to confusion.

My next book: a dog in a bag, and me. Can’t fail

Slowly, and almost indiscernibly, the taboos of my youth are being shed. The other day I caught myself thinking about attaching some sort of strap to my reading glasses.

Fishing boats in the harbour of seaside town, Brixham

A fishy business: TripAdvisor falls victim to fake Brixham seafood restaurant Oscar's

Here’s an idea for an online start-up: TrapAdvisor, warning online travel operators about possible fake reviews. It might have helped the folk at TripAdvisor realise there was something fishy about Oscar’s.

BBC headquarters at New Broadcasting House

Lord Patten to leave after true scale of ‘dark days’ laid bare as BBC admits pay for top bosses soared by 60 per cent

Chairman of Trust to stand down in 2015 after ‘chaotic’ year of vast redundancy payouts and failure of £100m digital project

Mishal Husain will join presenters on BBC Radio 4's Today programme

BBC announces Mishal Husain as new female voice for Today programme

Show's stalwart presenter Jim Naughtie has moved to work on coverage of Scottish independence referendum

On the spot: Safari visitors feel cheated if they don’t see a leopard, one of the Big Five, on an African safari

Something To Declare: Africa’s wildlife A-listers go far beyond the ‘Big Five’

Our obsession with “Big” doubtless has some Freudian explanation. And scholars will probably explain how “Five” is hard-wired into our cultural psyche, from the wounds of Christ to the pillars of Islam. But why must this expression become the raison d’être of the African safari? Big Five experience, Big Five lodge, Big Five tea towel: it’s everywhere.

MI5 officer tells court of her secret date watching spy film

Two MI5 officers disobeyed instructions to stay apart from each other and held a secret rendezvous to watch the espionage film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a court heard.

The 50 Best travel websites

Whether you want to know where to go, how to get there, the finest places to stay or what to avoid at all costs, Sarah Barrell has a treasure-trove of information for the trip of a lifetime

Despite the high menu prices, room service isn’t very profitable

Room service: The final call on a luxury that is just not profitable

At the New York Hilton, you will soon have to make do with a 'grab 'n go' cafeteria

Travel Agenda

From coffee tours and festival checklists to the Grand Canal and the pyramids

Green scene: Clouds shroud the woods of Motovun in Istria

Independent on Sunday travel writing competition: Write your way to an inspirational week in Croatia

We have once again joined forces with Bradt Travel Guides  to offer readers the chance to win our travel-writing competition, with a top prize this year of a holiday for two to the Croatian region of Istria. PLUS have your winning story published in 'The Independent on Sunday' and Independent.co.uk

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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
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

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
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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
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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
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Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all