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Baechtold’s Best: Afghanistan visually explores a stunning variety of Afghan experiences. Each 2-page spread in this short book is dedicated to a simple theme like Taxi, Burka, Meal, or Poppy. The left-hand page offers sixteen thumbnail photos on the theme and a graphic map indicating where each was taken. The right-hand page has a large image chosen by the editors as the best example—Baechtold’s Best—with the briefest of identifying captions.

Travelers seeking recommendations for restaurants or hotels, or instructions on what to pack should look elsewhere. (Travelers considering a casual trip to Afghanistan may want to think twice altogether!) However, for those of us who’ve only seen glimpses of the Afghanistan over the shoulder of a CNN reporter and wanted more, the book’s 545 gorgeous photos transmit the country’s heat, flavor, sadness, and beauty with telegraphic clarity.

Baechtold’s Best: Afghanistan, published by Riverboom Books, is available at independent bookstores, or through online retailers like Amazon.com. Other titles in the series include Beijing, the North Pole, and the Louvre.

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at TravelandLeisure.com