Robert Nickelsberg’s Afghanistan: A Distant War

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Robert Nickelsberg’s Afghanistan: A Distant War isn’t a photobook, to say it is would be underselling it. Complete with maps, profiles of the main protagonists, and essays written by Jon Lee Anderson, Steve Coll, Ahmed Rashid and Tim McGirk among others, A Distant War is a sort of history book, putting into context 25 years of turbulent adversarial conflicts and 25 years of reporting. As Anderson writes in the book’s foreword, “Americans, like most people, tend to record history capriciously, holding certain events close for a time and when their perceived relevance has passed, discard them.” But Nickelsberg is different. For 25 years, on assignment for Time magazine and The New York Times, the photojournalist has gone back to Afghanistan, recording its troubled history from the end of the Cold War to the Taliban rise to power – which made “covering the war harder,” writes Nickeslberg – and the inevitable American quagmire following the 9/11 attacks.

Now, as the US is preparing to bring home its last soldiers, the war rages on in Afghanistan. “The country that for some Americans had become synonymous with global destiny is already fading from view,” writes Anderson. “and soon, once again, Afghanistan will become a distant war.”

Robert Nickelsberg’s Afghanistan: A Distant War is published by Prestel ( and is available now. It retails at £40.