David Petraeus, a retired four-star United States Army general, is giving a talk on Thursday at the Asia Society. The son of a librarian and a sea captain, Petraeus led the 2007 troop surge in Iraq – and was so successful he earned the moniker “King David”. Subsequently, there was talk of Petraeus becoming president. But in April, the then 62-year-old had a dramatic fall from grace, when he was sentenced to two years’ probation for leaking classified material to his mistress. During the 2007 surge, thousands in Iraq were arrested and held without trial. One of those was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi …

Believed to have been born in 1971 in a city north of Baghdad, al- Baghdadi is the leader of the extremist militant group and selfproclaimed caliphate Islamic State. He is also, according to Forbes magazine, the 57th most powerful person in the world. Since 2011, he has been listed as a terrorist by the US and there is a US$10 million bounty on his head. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris this month that claimed 130 lives. In the wake of the tragedy, one French politician wrote on the matter of immigration in Time magazine, “Too often, we have confused hospitality with blindness.” The writer was Marine Le Pen …

The leader of the French National Front ousted the party’s founder, her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, in August, after he made a series of racist comments, too extreme even for the right-wing group. Controversial comments, however, are a family speciality: Marine was recently charged with inciting racial hatred after she compared Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation. Earlier this year, she also publicly chastised a Swedish football player on the Paris Saint-Germain team after he called France a “shit country”. That player’s name is Zlatan Ibrahimovic …

The 34-year-old captain of Sweden’s national team is one of the world’s top strikers. He won the 2013 Fifa goal of the year award for his incredible overhead bicycle kick in a game against England. But Ibrahimovic is also famous for his angry outbursts and arrogance, having once announced that “a World Cup without me is nothing to watch”. His bestselling memoir, I am Zlatan, was penned by Swedish ghostwriter David Lagercrantz …

“Apart from my family, it’s the most beautiful thing that’s ever happened to me,” Lagercrantz has said of the biography, which has become a classic in Sweden. The former crime reporter has also authored a sequel to Stieg Larsson’s wildly popular Millennium trilogy that began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Larsson died before finishing the series. One of Lagercrantz’s earlier works is a historical novel based on the life of the British mathematician and computer genius who broke German codes during the second world war: Alan Turing …

An Olympic-level runner, a stutterer and a pioneering computer scientist, Turing’s work during the war saved countless lives. Once a message was decrypted, the British would pass information on German military activities to the wartime intelligence agency the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, which from 2011 to 2012 was headed by David Petraeus.