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A Companion & Guide

Thanks to 20 years of civil war and its association with terrorism, Afghanistan is now unjustly thought of in the West as a barbarous backwater. Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide aims to dispel this image in a comprehensive introduction to 3,500 years of Afghan culture. Starting with a full history of the country from 1500BC, each chapter looks at the major cities and regions, describing their distinctive cultural and ethnic traditions, their associations with poets, artists, musicians, travelers and holy men, as well as warriors and conquerors. Ancient and modern sources from Afghanistan are extensively quoted, as well as the thoughts, musings and experiences of writers from America, Europe, Russia, China, India and the Middle East, including such luminaries as Robert Byron and Bruce Chatwin.

Experienced Afghan traveller Matthew Leeming contributes detailed information for those who intend to visit the country as tourists, with guides to specific cities and areas, as well as more general advice. Elizabeth Chatwin, whose famous 1970s journey to Afghanistan with her husband Bruce Chatwin and poet Peter Levi was immortalised in The Light Garden of the Angel King, contributes an introduction. A number of specialist essays by leading experts further present topics such as archeology, architecture, carpets, miniature painting, music, flora and fauna. Wonderfully illustrated with superb images from world-renowned photographers, this book also features engravings, paintings and images of priceless museum artifacts. This lavish publication reveals the immense treasury of cultural, historical and natural wealth too frequently forgotten that is Afghanistan.


“...I used the Afghan guide across the country and thought it was fabulous. Odyssey has invented a wonderful new format for guidebooks that deserves to change the genre for ever ...” - William Dalrymple

“...a gem of a book...” - The Literary Review

“...If travel books came with warnings, the one for AFGHANISTAN: A COMPANION AND GUIDE would read, "Caution: may inspire actual voyage". But then, this lavishly produced guide could not help do otherwise - especially if you're partial to adventure...” - TIME Magazine (UK and European Editions), August 22nd 2005

“...well illustrated... its photographs... give an idea of the unequalled beauty of the country in all its variety... It is strong on the history... full of sensible tips. Above all, it is authoritative and as well-informed as only extensive travels inside the country can make it... If the country deters all but the most dauntless, it will serve as a vade mecum for them and for the rest of us a reminder of what we are missing...” - Spectator

“...This is a superb book as I'm sure you agree and will be the standard reference book on Afghanistan for years. The launch in London gathered the cream of British journalism and politics and I was very impressed...” - Radek Sikorski

“...Thorough and beautifully illustrated, this book is a comprehensive - and fun - window into Afghan history, culture and traditions. A must-have for travel readers and a gripping read for anyone with even a passing interest in Afghanistan....” - Khaled Hosseini, author of 'The Kite Runner'.

“...what we have all been waiting for. Bijan Omrani and Matthew Leeming have compiled a masterful and elegant guide to this most alluring of countries. Packed with history, rich in whimsical detail, it is a treat for anyone contemplating a trip to Central Asia's greatest treasure, and a fine read for the armchair traveller. Highly recommended...” - Justin Marozzi, author of Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World

“...much more than just a guidebook - the contents page alone had me gripped! The chapter on places to stay in Kabul had me crying with laughter... required reading for anyone with any interest in Afghanistan...” - Christina Lamb, Sunday Times, author of 'The Sewing Circles of Herat'

“...It might seem madness of publish a guide of nearly 800 pages to a country that is still on the Foreign Office 'blacklist', but this one, strong on history and sumptuously produced, can be enjoyed even by adventurers who never leave the armchair...” - Daily Telegraph (UK)

“...wonderful books on Afghanistan...I know they will inform my reporting and travels...” - Mark Thompson, Time Magazine


+ Introduction by Elizabeth Chatwin, veteran Afghan traveller

+ Sumptuously produced with illustrations from world-renowned photographers such as Michael Yamashita, Roland and Sabrina Michaud and Wilfred Thesiger

+ Strong on history with coverage from Alexander the Great to Hamid Karzai

+ Literary excerpts from Herodotus to Robert Byron, Bruce Chatwin and Peter Levi

+ To be enjoyed by adventurers who never leave the armchair and by intrepid visitors

+ Experienced Afghan traveler contributes detailed tourist information with guides to specific cities and areas

+ Written by authors with both academic and first-hand knowledge of the country

+ Includes rare archival material such as 19th century paintings and engravings from the Bodleian Library and the Royal Geographical Society

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Matthew Leeming - Author
Bijan Omrani - Author


Publication Date : March 2011
Category : TRAVEL/History/Literature/Asia
Paperback ISBN 10 : 9622178162
Paperback ISBN 13 : 978-962-217-816-8
Edition : Second Edition
Paperback Price : US$ 34.95, GB£ 24.95
Format : 8.25in x 6 in
Pages : 784
Photos : 310
Maps : 20

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