The Hollow Crown
Many of William Shakespeare’s plays feature historical events and characters. But his so-called ‘history plays’ only encompass those named after English kings, such as Richard II. Together, these ten dramas tell the sweeping story of power struggles in medieval England across five generations of rulers. They are only loosely based on fact: Shakespeare sought to turn history into captivating theatre, and use it to shed light on the society he lived in. As a result, they offer an invaluable insight into Elizabethan society — and some rip-roaring good drama.
Rising giants threaten US-led world order
Long considered the world’s policeman, the United States now finds its privileged superpower status challenged from the Baltic to Asia. Will it still be the dominant power in a decade?
How the West protected the Arab dictators
Torture instruments and secret files are being discovered in Egypt. They raise tough questions for Western powers that turned a blind eye for many years.
Russia wants new power bloc to counter West
A new political union, announced by Vladimir Putin as a major goal for his next presidency, will form a Eurasian counterpart to the EU. Some analysts see this as a major geopolitical threat.
Class-obsessed Britain bans Indian caste system
The UK government has announced that the Indian caste system will effectively soon be illegal in Britain. But what of Britain’s own obsession with social class?
UK society is increasingly divided by class
A new film about privileged youth has sharpened the debate about class division in modern Britain. Top jobs increasingly go to the privately educated. Whatever happened to meritocracy?
From churl to chav: shaming the underclass
A new book suggests we enjoy ridiculing people at the bottom of the heap for everything: their accent, their behaviour and even their clothes. Often by using the word 'chav'.
Ex-dictator sues video game over bad publicity
The imprisoned Panamanian tyrant Manuel Noriega is suing Call of Duty II: Special Ops for misrepresenting him. Do video games have a duty to be historically accurate?
Experts pull sci-fi thriller ‘Gravity’ to Earth
‘Gravity’, the new space thriller with George Clooney, has critics and audiences giddy with praise. But some physicists are less impressed. Should there be more science in science fiction?
Controversy rages over movies ‘based on truth’
From slavery to politics to war, the latest blockbusters are dominated by real-life characters and events. But what happens when truth overlaps with commercial movie-making?
Oscar-tipped movie glorifies war, critics say
Clint Eastwood’s new film American Sniper has smashed box office records and been nominated for six Academy Awards. But does its portrayal of war amount to militaristic propaganda?
Terrorist tweets challenge free speech
Somalian insurgents Al-Shabaab joined Twitter this month. Their account is a powerful propaganda tool – and America is threatening to shut it down.
Chinese journalists strike over censorship
Staff at a newspaper have rebelled against propaganda officials rewriting editorials: does the confrontation offer clues about whether China will open up under new leader Xi Jinping?
So-called ‘heretics’ victims of greed, not religion
Eight hundred years ago, a nightmarish crusade burned and tortured its way across Southern France. Now, a new book suggests that the charge of heresy was simply a cover for grasping tyranny.
Richard III's skeleton throws up DNA surprise
The bones found under a Leicester car park two years ago are definitely those of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III. But his DNA has cast doubt over the royal bloodline. Does that matter?