Afghan War Portraits

ED GRAZDA'S photographs appear in Artyom Borovik's book, but a full selection of his views of the Afghan people and their conflict is available in his own collection, Afghanistan 1980-1989 (Parkett/Der Alltag Verlag, 140 pp, $19.95). A number of his photos were first published in this newspaper (see illustration above). Grazda has captured and has been captured by the place, its people and wild, forbidding beauty. His camera treats the war as the combination of daily triumph and tragedy that it was.

Like many photographers who spend time looking at things carefully, Grazda is also a careful and incisive writer. In between the stark black-and-white prints are short vignettes and illustrative narratives of one of the most misunderstood and underreported wars in history. Some are funny; some are desperately sad.

Grazda's photographs should be in every collection of books on the Afghan war, probably one of the least understood and chronicled conflicts, and a war which grinds on even today. Poised on the edge of what our leaders tell us will be a short war, we are warned by views of people who have lived for decades with mindless conflict and death, and who held out against an unrestrained Soviet Air Force and Army. Their eyes look into Grazda's camera and at us. To me, they seem to say, ``Choose peace while you can.''

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