Photographer Zalmaï fled his native Kabul with his brother at the age of 15 upon the Soviet invasion. Long after becoming a citizen of Switzerland and an estimable freelancer, he recently returned to Afghanistan for the third time (officially to document the country post-9/11 for a U.S. magazine) to find his subjects instilled with "an incredible life force that had survived despite everything." This dynamic yet sobering book features 80 full-color and five duotone images. Set generously within the 11¾"×8-5/8" pages, the reproductions powerfully excerpt life amidst reconstruction in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban, the installment of a transitional government and the return of more than three million Afghan refugees. Using color film (as he writes in his preface, "war drains the color out of life"), Zalmaï documented the daily struggles of the Afghan people against the omnipresence of international politics with a tenebrous but fond lens. His photos of markets, schools, destroyed villages, Afghanistan's new leader, Hamid Karzai, among cohorts in various meetings, and families in transit, waiting on the borders of Pakistan, showcase a liminal state of democracy.