In the minds of far too many Americans, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are little more than ideas: words and phrases...
In the minds of far too many Americans, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are little more than ideas: words and phrases bandied about by politicians, dinner party talking points for the moderately informed, momentary segments blipped above ticker stats on cable news shows. Yet no matter how far away those zones of conflict may seem, they are, in fact, quite real and quite consequential. And the men and women who've actually served on the front lines are becoming all too aware of an even more brutal truth: They have to keep going back.Fortunately, there are some people who are committed to telling their stories. The photographer Peter van Agtmael was periodically embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2006 to 2008, during which time he befriended a number of soldiers and attempted to convey, through a series of arresting images, the range of emotional, psychological, and physical experiences of those troops. The harrowing images reveal a world about which most of us dedicate too little in the way of consideration, and now fill the pages of his book Second Tour: Hope I Don't Die.We're proud to show a few of those photographs here, courtesy of Magnum Photos. Click each image to enlarge.
Mosul, Iraq, 2006. A young boy is separated for questioning after a raid.
Mosul, Iraq, 2006. Iraqi soldiers walk past a bullet pocked wall in the aftermath of a deadly raid.
Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan, 2008. Fahima, the wife of Dost Khairy Mohammed, poses for pictures with her nephews before her wedding.
Kunar, Afghanistan, 2007. A U.S. soldier watching a movie on a laptop.
Nuristan, Afghanistan, 2007. A helicopter comes to land on an impromptu helipad built into the side of the mountain at the outpost of Aranas.
Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, 2006. Graffiti written by soldiers on the walls of bathroom stalls.
Nuristan, Afghanistan, 2007. On guard at dawn after a midnight raid on a small village.
Virginia, 2008. A fresh grave in the snow at Arlington National Cemetery.
Wisconsin, 2007. Raymond plays with Star Wars lightsabers with his sons Brady and Riley.
Nuristan, Afghanistan, 2007. Flight medic Michael Julio holds the hand of a grievously wounded American soldier on the flight to the nearest hospital.
Jalalabad, Afghanistan, 2007. Lieutenant Erik Malmstrom turns away from pictures of three of his soldiers killed the previous year in a Taliban ambush. The pictures are in a brigade memorial room at their headquarters in Jalalabad.