Reviews so far for Kabul: The Bradt
Mini Guide from individuals and the press including The Sunday Times Book of
the Week, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, Newsweek and Wanderlust.
JUNE 2005 - LATEST
NEWSPAPER REVIEW IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY BY FORMER SAS MEMBER AND BEST SELLING
AUTHOR ANDY MCNAB
decided where to go on your summer holiday? Well, I have the perfect answer
for you. How about a relaxing fortnight in Kabul, the Afghan capital?
Unbelievably, Bradt publishes a mini-guide to the city - perfect for
those last minute getaways. To be fair, tourists have already been spotted in
the city - not by the planeload, but in small numbers from Japan, Australia
and the UK.
I spent time in Kabul after the fall of
the Taliban in 2002, and I could have done with a few tips to having a good
time there. Things have come a long way since then. As the new guide points
out, Everest Pizza delivers - great news, because there's a good chance
you'll be shot or kidnapped if you go to pick up an 18in extra-spicy pizza
According to the
guide, which also comes in an online version (www.kabulguide.net),
there are some great places to see, even if many of them are partly destroyed
. It's full of good advice for holiday-makers too - but not the usual stuff
about preventing sunburn or how to spot when a taxi driver is trying to rip
you off. These tips are unique to the city. 'Kabul is one of the most mined
cities in the world, so take care. Never wander off the beaten track.'
I can't understand
why easyJet hasn't seen the gap in the market and
started selling cheap flights there.
Rashid, March 24, 2003. Ahmed Rashid is
best selling author of the books Taliban and Jihad.
“The best and only guide for Kabul's hot spots, monuments, historical
buildings and most important of all good places to eat. The guide has put Kabul on the map for
the first time in 20 years.”
USA Today features Kabul Mini Guide on front
page of travel section: Online article (see
The mini guide features in The Financial Times.
To make it easier,
two enterprising journalists recently completed Kabul's first tourist guidebook in 20
years. Kabul: The Bradt
Mini Guide evolved from a 16-page leaflet aptly named The Survival Guide to Kabul.
First time, solo visitors to Kabul should pick
The Bradt Mini Guide,' by Dominic Medley and Jude Barrand. It is packed with tips on culture, where to hire
a car or a translator and suggestions of places to stay and eat (www.kabulguide.net).
Wanderlust Travel Magazine
BEST BUYS In the first of its
new series of mini guides, Bradt has set an
impressive precedent. Evolved from a 16 page leaflet handed out by streetkids to aid workers and expats
after the war, the comprehensive Bradt Mini Guide
to Kabul is a fascinating insight into Afghanistan's
capital, whether you intend to go there or not. Historical information on the
city, its citizens and the ruthless Taliban is mixed with practical advice on
safety, security and health issues for travellers, and moving personal
accounts from Afghans and aid workers. Since the TV news coverage has stopped
it's hard to imagine how life in Kabul
has changed, but reading snippets about the growing popularity of juice bars
and the colourful stalls on Chicken
Street allows you to get a glimpse of how life
might have changed for the Afghan people. A must read.
September 22 2003
TRAVEL Coming To Kabul The Taliban may still be hiding out in the
hills, but already the backpacking set is jetting into Afghanistan.
So it’s no wonder the guidebook industry is getting in on the deal. The idea
The Bradt Mini Guide” was dreamed up by journalist
Dominic Medley and NGO employee Jude Barrand in the
hope of creating a survival handbook for new arrivals. The duo at first
simply put together photocopied pamphlets of embassy contacts, U.N. office
addresses and top guesthouses, distributing them free to the city’s street
children, who could then sell them and make a quick buck. They sold fast, and
soon Bradt Travel Guides swooped in with an offer
to publish the books, providing Kabul’s
kids continue to sell them to the expatriate community and new-arrival
tourists. So, what are the new travel guides like? NEWSWEEK sneaked a peek
and they’re not half bad. The guide gives practical tips on security (“Be
extra careful walking or driving around at night”), steers readers to the hot
hotels (the Mustafa and Intercontinental) and even reveals where to buy
NEWSWEEK (the Habibi Book Centre “halfway down Chicken Street”).
The index reveals almost everything a foreigner might want to know about Kabul and its environs.
Except, of course, where Osama bin Laden is hiding out. That’d be too easy,
right? —Michelle Jana
July 20 2003
The Sunday Times.
Books of the week
Kabul, the Bradt Mini Guide
by Dominic Medley & Jude Barrand
This is a guidebook that puts something back into the
city it describes: Kabul, ruled by the Taliban until November 2001, when it
was famously “liberated” by the BBC veteran John Simpson, and which even now
is on the Foreign Office’s list of places to be visited only on essential
Last year, the energetic Kabulis celebrated
the dawn of the post-Taliban era by reopening their city, helped by thousands
of foreign- aid workers. The authors were among this influx: Medley arrived
to set up a journalism training project, while Barrand
was press officer for Caritas Internationalis. Both
were well placed to collect information on everything from security and
travel to hotels and restaurants, and they collated it into a 16-page
pamphlet, The Survival Guide to Kabul.
Then they had the bright idea of getting the city’s street-kid newspaper
vendors to sell it. The guide was popular, especially with the many new aid
workers, and put much-needed cash into the pockets of impoverished children.
With the help of Bradt,
the original pamphlet has now grown into a mini-book that, in its scope,
shows just how far the city has come since the days of banned schools and
hidden women. This, too, is being sold by children on the dusty streets of Kabul. Of course, it
might be worth waiting for Afghanistan to drop off the FO’s warning list
before you book the plane tickets — but at least now there’s a guide to take
when it does.
July 4 2003
The Daily Telegraph.
ONE OF THE REVIEWS ON AMAZON.COM
A reader from LA, CA, USA
The new Bradt Mini
Guide to Kabul is a well written insider's
view of Kabul.
It offers the traveller everything he/she needs to know to survive and enjoy Kabul and its environs,
from security concerns to the best espresso cafe. The content is informative
and well-organized. The lively prose and diversity of subject matter makes
the book a good read, even for the armchair traveller curious about life in
this war torn city. Excellent!
Tim Neilson, BBC Journalist:
In life, I've learned, you should always
judge a book by its cover. Immediate and instinctive judgements are there to
be trusted. And the photograph of a young Afghan girl framed in a half-opened
door is an intriguing image that catches the eye and draws the Kabul Mini
Guide off the shelf and into your hand. The girl, with rich black
hair pushed behind the ears and wearing a pretty (almost Edwardian) patterned
dress, has a slightly forced half smile that betrays a wariness of the
cameraman and his intimidating lenses. Despite this, she has an intelligent
eye that fixes us with a straight gaze. The door is held open, perhaps
reluctantly, and with her hand on the handle there remains the possibility
the door may soon be closed. So perhaps the cover is a visual metaphor for
the relationship with Kabul
that awaits the western traveller.
A book should also feel right. The mini guide
is very light but, like a compact disc, feels a centimetre too wide. It can,
just, be held in the span of a hand. Nevertheless, the book, despite its 178
pages, can easily be slipped into a breast or jeans pocket without feeling
Once these courting rituals, habitual to the
experienced bookshop browser, have been performed we can finally open the
book and read its contents. And again, the immediate response is positive:
the typeface is clear and easy to read, the maps simple to follow and the
list of contents and introductory pages are well laid out.
The opening Background chapter outlines
turbulent history and puts the present political situation in context. One of
the great strengths of the guide are the individual personal testimonies that
surprise the reader and break up the main text: the best is the story of Naser Barotali, an orphan boy
who sold the guide's precursor The Survival Guide to Kabul on the city
streets in order to provide for his younger brother and blind grandfather. His
tale of heroic endurance, laid out in short, barely punctuated sentences is
But undoubtedly the strongest sections of the
guide are the two main chapters that give every conceivable piece of
practical information that the prospective visitor to Kabul needs to know. It's vital to know the
Afghan Tourist Information Office has no information, that the fleet of the Ariana Afghan Airways lie as burnt out hulks on the
runway - and I'm now convinced the only real way to get to Kabul is via the
The city of Kabul is wonderfully evoked in the guide.
There seems to be so much going on that before long we'll see Time Out Kabul
on the stalls. And the authors seem suspiciously expert on the fare offered
by the surprisingly large number of restaurants in the city. The various
guest houses and hotels are expertly detailed and, as ever, the information
is punctuated with humour and insight.
With the Kabul Mini Guide sitting on
my desk for the past hour, many colleagues have wandered by and gently
enquired "Are you going to Kabul?"
They pick the book up and flick through with curiosity and a genuinely
appreciative air. Unhappily it's unlikely that I'll be in Kabul in the near future - getting east of
Sevenoaks is in itself an achievement. But for anyone going this is
undoubtedly an essential part of the kit and the authors are to be commended.
Mike Dobbie, Editor, Shares magazine www.sharesmag.com.au
Having been told last December by the
International Federation of Journalists that they were sending me to Kabul to train
journalists and assist with plans to set up an independent journalists union,
I then set about reading and learning all I could. The only problem: there
was nothing relevant, current, accurate, or informative... There was nothing
that gave you an idea of the city and what you would find when you got there.
Lonely Planet had never done a guide and all they could offer was a
rudimentary history and a warning not to go. Newspapers only offered war
reporting - news but not city life.
And so it seemed there was nothing to help me
out there... or so I thought.
I then stumbled on to the web site and it was
all there. Along with a welcome that mirrored exactly what I was hoping
someone would say as I stepped off the Ariana
flight, it was loaded with details about mobile phones, restaurants, social
life, hotels. It was all of up-to-date, meaningful and not just practical but
a great relief as well. Usually, in situations like this, the detail of the
Guide is passed by word of mouth among once yet get there and gleaned over
many weeks. But in your case, all those essential bits of information was all
available in a central location, ready to be mined and treasured.
On my first trip in December, venturing into
the unknown and wandering around the city for the first time, I actually knew
more than I thought because the Guide had equipped me with the essential
information. Not only that, but my partner back in Melbourne was utterly
relieved too - having had visions of minefields and war - the Guide actually
helped her relax and realise Kabul in December 2002, was not the war zone
that 14 month old TV images had created in her mind.