Books: An Adventure Behind the Lines of Conflict and Creativity ; Come to the Cheltenham Festival of Literature and Experience the Global Power of Debate and Discovery. Boyd Tonkin Previews This Year's Programme
Tonkin, Boyd, The Independent (London, England)
EVEN KATE ADIE still plans to be there. Global events have failed to make any dent at all in the extraordinary line-up of 400-plus writers due to appear at this year's Cheltenham Festival of Literature, which runs from 12 to 21 October. Well, we would say that, wouldn't we (The Independent is the Festival's media sponsor) - but I truthfully can't remember a broader, richer programme at this most distinguished and diverse of literary carnivals.
Let's start with some of the events that may appeal to anyone who wants to understand what's now happening, or may soon happen, in the wider world. Stella Rimington comes out of the shadows of MI5; John Pilger reflects on a career spent in other sorts of investigation; Lisa Jardine (a guest director this year) and David Cannadine consider "the rise and fall of empires". The Green campaigner George Monbiot will call for a better kind of new world order, and a formidable team - Richard Hoggart, Felipe Fernandez- Armesto, Lynne Segal, Peter Jay - gather to discuss the uses and abuses of "20th- century Power".
This Friday the globe-spanning Jan Morris (see page 9) opens the Festival, which closes nine days later with Vanessa Redgrave talking about her work on behalf of international human rights. Paddy Ashdown, Betty Boothroyd, Roy Hattersley, John Humphrys, John Sergeant and James Naughtie will bring news from the arena of politics and media; a panel including Michael Holroyd and Victoria Glendinning explore what it means to be a "a good writer" on an unjust planet; and William Shawcross asks whether ethics can survive a state of war.
In fact, the culture of war runs, uncannily, like a scarlet thread through this programme assembled many weeks ago. A platoon of war novelists appear - Sebastian Faulks, Melvyn Bragg, Helen Dunmore - along with photographer Don McCullin, and military historians Andrew Roberts and Richard Holmes. Joanna Bourke, Michael Burleigh and Richard Overy - a trio of unmatched authority when it comes to the conflicts of the last century - will examine the human cost of war, while Roy Jenkins discusses his new biography of Churchill.
More purely literary pleasures still abound. …