Mar 28 • 5M

New Afghanistan Coffee Table Book: The End of the U.S. Footprint and Rise of the Taliban Rule

New photo book coming soon

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“‎I know you're still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You're a very, very bright girl. Truly you are. You can be anything you want Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated Laila. No chance.”

― Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

A little break from all things Ukraine to draw attention to the many other calamities sadly clouding our world. As many of my readers know, my good friend photojournalist Jake Simkin and I spent much of 2021 in Afghanistan documenting the before/during/after the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and immediate rise of the Taliban rule. We visited almost every province by road, documenting this strange new – albeit old – governance.

Thus, a coffee table book featuring Jake’s photography and my words will be released later this Spring. You can pre-order here… Thank you all for your support.

Below is an excerpt of the introduction to be featured in “AFGHANISTAN: The End of the U.S. Footprint and Rise of the Taliban Rule.” (And some of the incredible images taken by @JakeSimkinPhotos).

Afghanistan 3D Front Cover.png


Our world brims with entrancing, complicated places. But none that quite hold the heart and clutch the imagination like Afghanistan, which means “Land of the Afghans.”

It is a landlocked trove of timeworn beryl stones and hidden treasures, of dusty paths encrusted from the historic Silk Road, of black skies with stars that light up the serrated mountain ranges, and mud-walled homes where those with pinched faces and warm eyes eat by candles and moonlight.

Every child born in Afghanistan is a child who comes into life a victim of war. And every parent too often puts those they love most to sleep with the uncertainty that one or all may not rise to the shards of peeping pink light again.

It is the place where we journalists venture and immediately fall in love with open Afghan hands, cracked by tireless work and unwavering hospitality. It is also the berth we go to have our souls shredded into a million pieces every time smoke plumes rise into the muggy sky from yet another bomb, or when a woman weeps from behind a sea-blue burka, unable to feed the baby in her arms.

Afghanistan embraces us and destroys us. Still, we cannot stay away from its gentle call. It is a nation that has long been burned and entombed by outside occupation, by conflict, by poverty, by its own past.

Afghanistan’s flaxen plains and clear blue skies have seen too much death. Too many men have taken their last breath crouched in trenches; too many mothers have gone to the market for honeyed sweets and never come home. Too many Afghans from too many sides have lost lives and limbs in battles of ideology, power, and land.

You can forget it is a beautiful country. A beautiful country beneath the bloodshed, stitched and ripped throughout decades of ceaseless conflict. Let us not forget that Afghanistan is also a country personified by survival, toughness, tender faces, and a zest for something better.

Curling around the famous Hindu Kush, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest places on the planet, yet so rich in its generosity. It is the snuggled land where strangers offer you their last piece of bread; lyrical souls guide you through the narrow, clay-caked streets; and time spent fantasizing of something better is always time well spent.

With the Taliban having suddenly resumed power on the sultry Sunday afternoon of August 15, 2021, there was an immediate kinesthesia of the old Afghan world passing and the new beginning with much trepidation and fear.

Nobody in Afghanistan really wants war. Yet war always waits in the grimy shadows of broken things.

Nobody can predict what will happen next.

But life, including the book of Afghan life, overflowing with chapters of loss, love, faith, and hope, goes on.

Throughout this collection, my photographer Jake and I take you on a journey through the country that has shaped our journalistic lives, has taught us what it is to suffer and what it is to overcome. We guide you through life in Afghanistan during the U.S. occupation, the dizzying government fall, the Taliban ascent amid the chaotic U.S. withdrawal, and into this new chapter being forcefully written by men from the mountains who wear their thick black turbans like crowns.

We accompany you across multiple provinces of Afghanistan in the immediate months after the Taliban, officially termed “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” took hold. There are the tender moments: the afternoons filled with children begging for soccer balls and screeching with delight through the antiquated village roads, the emerald lakes iced into absolute stillness, the devout absorbed in prayers on mats by the roadside, adhering the first call to prayer against hints of light behind the ridges.

Then there is the callous side, the war-wracked sentiment, the notion that a band-aid was ripped from the bullet wound. The fear for what comes next, the longing many Afghans have to leave, the unraveling humanitarian catastrophe, the hunger pains fused with the ache of abandonment.

With the Taliban at the helm, there is much we know, and much that we do not.

For those interested in learning more about the aftermath of war, please pick up a copy of my latest book “Only Cry for the Living: Memos from Inside the ISIS Battlefield.”

Also if you want to support small business:

Di Angelo Publications

And also now available Down Under!

Thanks again for your support. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more updates. Please consider a paid subscription to help me continue to do this work.

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