Afghanistan at a time of peace – Christopher Balfour

Book Cover: Afghanistan at a time of peace - Christopher Balfour
Editions:Hardcover - First Edition: £ 22.00
ISBN: 9781912821860
Size: 210.00 x 210.00 cm
Pages: 120

Publisher: Tricorn Books

With John’s survey instruments and our walks we
calculated that the valley measurements were about five
miles by three. Thinking back over sixty-five years and
re-reading Oliver’s words has come the realisation of the
enormous difference of that life we were privileged to
observe. No nine-to-five drudgery hopefully conjuring up
favourable figures on spread sheets and the like. The valley
contained sufficient land, owned by different families,
to provide enough rice, wheat, vegetables and fruit for
the population of that time. The wooden tools, like this
plough, which they had fashioned themselves, did the
job as they wanted. There was no thought of increasing
production by mechanisation or chemicals, no thought
of creating surplus for export and thus increasing wealth.



"At a time of peace" is the crucial phrase. The author describes how he and three other students drove from Cambridge through Europe to Afghanistan during the summer vacation in a Land Rover. They were appreciative visitors, meeting ambassadors through to farming peasants and the crisp color photographs include mountainous views and farming with hand-made ploughs.
This is a country living within itself but in justifiable fear of the Russians. The visitors were accepted and the lively, sensitive descriptions of a nation at peace with itself are tragic in present circumstances.
An important book but the "might have been is heart-breaking. Highly recommended.

Katie Feehan - Daily Mail on wrote:

When Afghanistan was a land of peace and plenty: British explorer's fascinating images from 1955 Land Rover expedition show a nation unchanged since the time of Marco Polo
• British photographer Christopher Balfour went on an epic journey with a team of explorers from Cambridge
• They travelled through 11 countries in a veteran Land Rover and explored little-visited region of Afghanistan
• Fascinating 120-page book sheds light on their expedition and shows countryside untouched by modern life 

Eye-opening images taken by a British photographer of Afghanistan in peacetime have been revealed in a new book.
In a fascinating 120-page book, travel writer Christopher Balfour reveals a side of the country that few will recognise, untouched by modern times and decades of unrest.
The photographs capture locals engaging in domestic life in a stunning landscape which had changed little in six centuries with one image showing a man holding up two fish that he had caught from the nearby river.

In 1955 Afghanistan was in the middle of King Zahir Shah’s forty year peaceful rule. Zahir had been appointed, aged 19, after his well-liked father, Nadir, was assassinated in 1933, after only four years in power. Nadir’s cousin, Amanullah, was exiled to Italy in 1929. This was because of his unpopular attempts at modernisation following his trips to Europe.
At this time a team from Cambridge travelled overland to that mountainous country. Welcomed by the Afghan authorities in Kabul, it was arranged they could visit Badakshan. After much appreciated hospitality all the way, they reached the Boharak valley. They were invited to set up camp alongside the River Zardeh. For three weeks the local people were kind hosts and explained their way of life. Afghanistan was then much as described by Marco Polo six Centuries earlier.

‘No visible buildings. Lush grass and trees. Air so pure and salubrious to cure all sickness.’

The team was grateful to Rover who lent OUE 271 which never ‘failed to proceed’ through eleven countries.

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