Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

REFERENCE AND TRAVEL GUIDES: Afghanistan: A Traveler's Companion and Guide

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

REFERENCE AND TRAVEL GUIDES: Afghanistan: A Traveler's Companion and Guide

Article excerpt

REFERENCE AND TRAVEL GUIDES Afghanistan: A Traveler's Companion and Guide, by Bijan Omrani and Matthew Leeming. Introduction by President Hamid Karzai. Hong Kong: Odyssey Books & Guides, 2005. $29.95. 768 pages. Illustrations. $29.95.

Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide is a timely publication that brings with it great potential for increased tourism to and understanding of Afghanistan. In it, one finds an eclectic portrayal of a mythical land filled with beautiful people colorfully depicted by rare pictures of a wondrous landscape. In this work, Bijan Omrani and Matthew Leeming offer the most in-depth look at Afghanistan's tourist as well as historical wealth, leading the reader through a step-by-step view of all major provinces and must-see sites for travelers.

In addition to being the most comprehensive guide to Afghanistan, most useful is the insider's account that Afghanistan provides on the culture, art, history, and geography of the country, shedding light on folkloric dress and delicate subtleties of diverse customs. Given the international presence in Afghanistan, this feature makes it an instrumental resource for those who are interested in working in the country.

Afghanistan offers a magical voyage into the realm of the mysticism of poetry. One of the world's most renowned poets, Rumi, springs from Balkh, an area in Afghanistan which has also produced the famous Rabia Balkhi, a poetess who is said to be a legendary martyr of love.

Omrani and Leeming capture the spirit of a country studded by jewels, such as the Timur Ruby Necklace of Badakhshan, tapestries, and artifacts that date back to the 2nd Century A.D. and people of varying origins. The Imperial State Crown, depicted in the book, is adorned with the Black Prince's ruby, which was mined in Badakhshan province. But the country is famous not just for its rubies; in fact, the beautiful and historic Panjshir Valley is rich with some of the most stunning emeralds the world over.

Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide is a treasure trove of knowledge on the innermost subtle details of the country. From the Graeco-Bactrian coins to the great game of Buzkashi, this book is illustrative of Afghanistan's rich heritage. The geography and archaeology of the country is clearly tied to the mores and traditions of the Afghan people. The authors shed light on this connection, helping readers to understand not only the rugged terrain but also what brought the Afghan people to this point in their cultural disposition. …

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