Although he has ruled Russia for twelve years, Vladimir Putin remains a mystery. His family life is hidden, as is much of his life story. His wealth is the subject of speculation, with some insisting he is the richest man in Europe. But evidence is difficult to come by. His enemies regularly turn up dead and he attaches little value to human life. Yet he has presided over the sharpest rise in Russian living standards in the last 100 years.
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'The authors do not shrink from spelling out the scale of the killings when the Rhodesians made long-distance raids on guerrilla camps in Mozambique and Zambia.'
Xan Smiley on how Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.
'Thirkell was a product of her time and her class. For her there are no sacred cows, barring those that win ribbons at the Barchester Agricultural.'
The novelist Angela Thirkell is due a revival, says Patricia T O'Conner (£).