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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn