Travel

Mons is embracing the future as it prepares for its role as next year’s European Capital of Culture, but it’s also steeped in intriguing history. Philip Sweeney explores its two sides

British troops moving up to the trenches near Ypres in 1917

As we enter the centenary, Gove is right to question First World War myths

Revisionist historians have shown that British generals were not so very hapless

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

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map