Monday, March 16, 2009

From Baghdad With Love by Jay Kopelman

Rating 4 out of 5

From Baghdad with Love is the tale of Lava, a stray puppy found in Camp Fallujah and a Marine. While sweeping a building for insurgents the US Marine group the Lava Dogs find a bundle of energetic fur that melts their hearts on the spot. And so begins Lava’s story of being raised in secret in Fallujah and his eventual bid for freedom as Jay Kopelman fights desperately to keep Lava a secret and get him out of the country.

Kopelman's story about Lava. Snippets of the story are told from other people’s point of view more to illistrate the events and people working in other countries to help Lava. The story flows easily and is not difficult to grasp the terms being used. One thing I appreciated was that Jay Kopelman did not make the book about the rights or wrongs of war. You did not feel lectured or harassed. While he does express some of his personal views on some situations they are fleeting.

I felt Kopelman glossed over some of the nastier aspects of his stories which is understandable. The tales he did tell were not bedtime fairy tale type stories. However the war stories were not the main point of the book but merely highlighted events that were occurring during Kopelmans and Lava’s time in Iraq. It was interesting reading about what was happening during this period and about the people affected by them.

All these things though high light Lava’s story, which of course is the main theme of the book. I loved reading the effect he has on the Marines and the people around him in Iraq. One in story in particular was that of “Sam” and Iraqi who worked at a compound for news reporters in the red zone of Baghdad. When he first met Lava he wanted nothing to do with the dog, apparently Iraqi people do not like dogs and see them as being disgusting. But by the time Lava left the compound Sam was his biggest supporter and risked his on life for Lava.

While I will not say this was a light hearted book there were some light hearted moments and even funny ones. Some of the funniest moments for me were during Lava’s puppy days with the Marines in Camp Fallujah. I can only just imagine the scene of these big tough Marines and this cute bundle of fur bringing joy into each others lives at a time where there was little joy to be found.
"In reality, when he isn't asleep, he's anything but innocent. I personally saw the little monster destroy several maps, two pairs of boots, one cell phone, photographs of someone's kids, five pillows, and some grunts only pair of socks."
The content of this book is a little older then that of Dewey the Library Cat. I would not recommend this for anyone under fifteen years of age simply because some of the war stories told are quite disturbing even if they are glossed over. A must for animal lovers.


  1. This sounds like a wonderful book. I imagine it wouldn't be light reading considering the setting, but it does sound like a charming story just the same. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention. I'll have to look for it!

  2. I had heard of this puppy but didn't know there was a book about him! Thanks for the review, I'm adding this title to my list.