In 1984 Tamarov, then 19, was drafted into the Soviet Army and posted to Afghanistan where he spent 20 months in a minesweeper outfit. Despite heavy operational responsibilities and danger, he managed to take artful photographs which capture the stark landscape, friendly and unfriendly Afghans and the men of his platoon in action and in repose.
Photographs depicting the haunted faces of both soldiers and civilians, the country's rugged yet beautiful mountain terrain, and the banality of daily life between missions are interspersed with Tamarov's unsentimental but passionate prose, in which he reveals his growing disorientation and takes to task his government for a campaign that has been widely dubbed "the Soviet Vietnam".
Returning home uninjured in 1986, the author subsequently traveled to the United States, met with Vietnam vets and paid his respects at the Wall on the Mall in Washington, D.C., sharing with his new acquaintances "something which others cannot understand." More than a photographic essay, Afghanistan offerns an stunningly personal view of combat that is rarely seen by most.