Arts and Entertainment

One of the most brutal battles of the Second World War was the Nazi offensive against Stalingrad where atrocities were committed on both sides and the soldiers also had to contend with starvation and freezing conditions during a lengthy siege.

Invisible Ink: No 205 - Nicholas Monsarrat

Certain authors became known for working in specialised areas of fiction. Some still do this, but now they use recurring characters in a series designed to build reader loyalty. Lt-Cmdr Nicholas Monsarrat was best known for his sea stories. Born in one of Liverpool’s smartest areas, Rodney Street, in 1910, he graduated from Cambridge with the intention of practising law, but instead became a freelance writer. In the 1930s, he wrote a play and four novels but these are pretty much forgotten except the last, This is the Schoolroom, a semi-autobiographical story about an idealistic leftist writer facing up to reality.

Book review: 'The Erl-King' by Michel Tournier (Trs Barbara Bray)

First published in 1970, The Erl-King is very much a novel of its time and place; a product of continental Europe still heavy with memories of the Second World War and struggling to reconcile notions of victory and defeat with the ideological contest between East and West.

Best of 2014: Radio preview

Fiona Sturges picks this year's must-hear radio

Cambridge history professor hits back at Michael Gove's 'ignorant attack'

Professor Sir Richard Evans angered by Gove's criticisms of his work on World War One

5 more important ways that Nick Griffin is bankrupt

The leader of the BNP Nick Griffin was yesterday declared bankrupt. He doesn't own a house, and has run out of money. But there are some other, probably more important things that the far-right politician lacks...

January 1st is celebrated as a de facto birthday for thousands of Afghans who don’t know when they were born

Happy birthday to the Afghans who don’t know when they were born

During protracted wars in the 1980s and 1990s, the government didn’t have a system in place to register births

South Sudanese soldiers in Malakal, 497km from Juba

'Back from the brink': South Sudan's warring rivals to begin peace talks

Negotiators meet in Ethiopia as UN calls for end to fighting during which more than 1,000 people have been killed

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers his New Year address, saying the reclusive state's ruling party had become stronger after it was purged of 'factional filth'

North Korea: Kim Jong-un hails powerful uncle's execution as 'removal of factional filth'

New Year's Day message included call for improved ties with Seoul but also warning of possible 'nuclear catastrophe'

The five new coin designs which will go into circulation on 1st January 2014

Royal Mint unveils new coins commemorating historic British anniversaries in 2014

Lord Kitchener will appear on the new £2 coin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War

South Sudan army soldier mans a machine gun northeast of the capital Juba. Both sides in the conflict are reported to have agreed a cease fire ahead of peace talks

South Sudan government ‘agrees ceasefire’ with rebels ahead of peace talks

Abrupt conflict has already claimed more than 1,000 lives and seen 180,000 displaced, UN says

The Islamist threat to the Winter Games in Sochi is real

In the short term, Vladimir Putin will deal with the terrorist threat to his showcase Games by tightening a formidable range of security measures already in place

News from Berlin, By Otto de Kat (Translated by Ina Rilke) - Review

It’s wartime, 1941. Dutch diplomat Oscar Verschuur’s family are dispersed throughout Europe. He is posted in Switzerland, his wife Kate volunteers in a London hospital and his daughter Emma is married to Carl, a “good” German, and is based in Berlin.

2013 - the year in review: The best books of the year

"The Hired Man" by Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury)

The quagmire of Syria: A regional voice for moderation has been silenced

With the untimely death of Mohamad Chatah, Lebanon has lost a courageous intellectual

Okinawa approves move for US marine base after 17 years of negotiations

The governor of Okinawa has approved controversial plans to relocate a US Marine base to a less populous area – but said he would keep pressing to move the base off the of the Japanese island altogether.

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F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam