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The Enduring Splendors of, Yes, Afghanistan

A writer and photographer crisscross a nation ravaged by a quarter century of warfare to inventory its most sacred treasures

For the next two days, helicopters soar in and out of the valley, bringing government ministers, foreign ambassadors, chiefs and commanders from every tribe and race in Afghanistan. Schoolchildren carry banners and flags. Verses from the Koran thunder from a loudspeaker system. Bards sing songs in Massood’s honor; poets recite epic verses, recounting the glories of the dead man’s life. It is a timeless event: the laying to rest of a modern prince who is also a liberator in a mausoleum built on a hill, another monument to enriching this tortured, desert land.

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