Afghanistan Before The Wars

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Marty Larson and her young son (bottom right) float on a raft made of inflated goat skins. The man carrying the briefcase was a neighbor of the Larsons in Jalalabad. He now lives in the United States.

It’s difficult to imagine today, but Afghanistan was once a popular destination for foreigners with adventure in their blood. From 1970 to 1974, as Western and Soviet powers competed for influence in the country, one young American family compiled a photographic record of expat life in a country that has deteriorated so drastically since then, it’s as if time was moving backward.

The Blue Mosque in Mazar-e Sharif. In 2011, the year the Larsons last returned to Afghanistan, four people were killed when a bicycle bomb exploded near the mosque.

The Blue Mosque in Mazar-e Sharif. In 2011, the year the Larsons last returned to Afghanistan, four people were killed when a bicycle bomb exploded near the mosque.

Elliot Larson and his wife Marty worked in a medical facility in Jalalabad while raising a young family. On many of their outings they took a small Minolta camera, shooting slide film of weekends in the sun and trips to regions where today not even NATO soldiers can safely travel. The couple has kindly shared their pictures with RFE/RL, which are published here for the first time.

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