I recently went to Afghanistan on a major photo mission. It was the most interesting experience I’ve had in my professional work as a photographer. And challenging in far more ways than I had imagined. In preparation, I did a fair amount of research about the Taliban, recent politics, and the various kings and warriors of the past who raped and pillaged.
For a more modern perspective, I read Rory Stewart’s diary of his experience walking across Afghanistan. It is a fascinating insight into a generally misunderstood, ancient land and people, and an easy, accessible read.