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Afghanistan - Essential Field Guides, by Edward Girardet and Walter Jonathan (ed), is an excellent introduction to Afghanistan, aimed at journalists and aid workers. It's the only practical source of information for travelling in the region. Nancy Hatch Dupree's An Historical Guide to Afghanistan is a comprehensive guide to the country, though out of date: it was written in 1977. It still offers interesting historical details for armchair travellers. Unfortunately it's hard to find. More than 60 years after it was written, Robert Byron's Road to Oxiana remains the best, and funniest, travel book on Persia and Afghanistan. Few characters in the travel literature genre are as memorable as the show-stealing Afghan consul to Iran.One of the modern classics of travel writing, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, by Eric Newby, describes the (mis)adventures of two Englishmen who trekked through the Hindu Kush to Nuristan, north of Kabul, in the 1950s. It offers one of the best endings of any travel book ever.

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