by Llewelyn Morgan (2012). Wonderful cultural/historical account of the two colossal standing figures of Buddha in the Hindu Kush – along the Silk Road – in Afghanistan. These monumental statues, 53 and 35 meters high, were hewn directly from sandstone cliffs in the 6. century CE and covered with stucco. Admired and written about by Chinese, Indian, Islamist and European travelers throughout the centuries, both statues were dynamites by the zelot Taliban in 2001. The author does an outstanding job of analyzing the reception of travellers from many distinct cultures to these statues – the biggest in the world – spending a lot of time on the French and the British spies, soldiers and classicists (often the same) around the time of the first Anglo-Afghan war in 1840 and their misguided search for roots of Alexander the Great (“Europe’s favorite psychopath” in the author’s memorable phrase). Ironically, the two empty shells left in the cliffside following their wanton destruction are, in some sense, more authentic Buddhist monuments than any physical statues.