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From Baghdad to America: Life Lessons From A Dog Named Lava
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From Baghdad to America: Life Lessons From A Dog Named Lava (Lava #2)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  343 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Hardcover, 196 pages
Published July 17th 2008 by Skyhorse Publishing
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The time not to become a father is eighteen years before a war.
-E.B. White

This was an inspiring follow up to (From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava), tracing Jay Kopelman and his transplanted dog Lava’s transition back to civilian life in the US. Unlike the first book this is more about the man than the dog. We witness Kopelman struggle here with problems that many returning veterans face including anger management and control issues. In Kopelman’s case it’s through h
i read kopelman's first book, because i love animals and hearing rescue stories. this picks up where his last book left off. lava and he are both back in the stages trying to adjust to civilian life. kopelman's writing is honest, but it feels sophomoric at times. also, he uses a lot of rhetorical questions which can become annoying. i feel he gives real life solutions to problems soldiers face upon redeploying, but i felt the writing was just getting into the meat of the matter when the book end ...more
Bonnie Morse
Don't be fooled, this book isn't really about a dog. It's about the weirdly defensive Marine who brought him home from Iraq and how that Marine is better than a: everyone who's never been in combat because we all watch reality tv and drive SUVs, apparently; and b: everyone else, because reasons. Although he, the Marine, has PTSD and hates therapy, he seems to be advising therapy for all other service members. Probably because he's so much better than they are, if he's aware that he needs help, t ...more
In this sequel to his book From Baghdad With Love, Jay Kopelman describes his life with his dog, Lava, after arriving back in the United States. During his multiple deployments to Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Kopelman was responsible for the men in his unit. Together they operated under enormous stress, participating in battles and firefights, often with horrific results. His sanity was preserved by interacting with Lava, a stray dog rescued near a combat zone. Upon their return to the States, both ...more
Any idea what it's like to come home from the madness, bloodshed, and horror that is Iraq and resume normal American life? Author Jay Kopelman will tell you. This retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps will spare you nothing if you open this book and take the walk with him.

The book is a beauty, a wonder.
From Baghdad to America: Life Lessons From A Dog Named Lava is a welcome follow-up to From Baghdad, with Love. This piece of non-fiction has a very different tone than the first book as the author takes us from war-torn Fallujah to a new life of recovery for both he and Lava in La Jolla, California.

Kopelman compares Lava's drive and loyalty to that of a Marine. Semper Fidelis is the Marine Corp motto meaning "always faithful". (p. 26) Lava's loyalty upon undertaking his new life in La Jolla is
I liked this book and I see it as a good vessel to push those who are suffering from PTSD into therapy. But I thought that this book would be more about Lava and less about the mental stability of those coming home from war.

I think dogs are the best therapy and I'm glad that Jay had the book and Lava as an excuse to push him into seeing someone about his issues. It's a lovely story about a dog and a man helping each other recover from what they saw and lived through during their stay in Falluju
I had just finished reading From Baghdad to America: Life Lessons from a Dog Named Lava when I picked this up. So, with my head still full of puppy Lava love, I expected (and wanted) this sequel to tell me more about Lava's cute doggie antics and his happy life ever after in the States. That and only that. I wanted his traumatic life in Baghdad to have ended forever. But life is not a fairy tale.

As Kopelman said, war changes people. Dogs, too.

In this sequel, Kopelman tells us about his and Lav
Less focused than the first book, From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava, this one mainly deals with life after Iraq, both for Kopelman and for Lava. I think the main message is an important one--that a lot of soldiers get out and don't get the help that they need because they feel their macho image needs to be upheld, and that it's not right. Kopelman himself gets help only reluctantly, and under cover of doing research for the book, but admits that it was needed and t ...more
I believe that some of these first reviews are mixing up the first book "From Baghdad With Love" with this one "From Baghdad To America".

This book is more about Kopelman's and Lava's adjustment to life back (in Kopelman's case) and life (in Lava's case)in America. Kopelman's anger management issues, falling in love with the love of his life because "Lava bit" a child! How Lava helped Kopelman meet this woman, marry and have a child of his own. How Kopelman, under the guise of research, finally s
I could basically copy paste my review for "From Baghdad with Love" (with a few minor edits) but that's cheating.

Basically, while many complain that Jay is an inexperienced and unpolished writer, I think he has a perfect voice for his stories. His books are about surviving hell on earth only to come back to what you thought would be heaven and find out it's just as hellish (if not more so) only different. I think his writing catches people off guard with his honesty and openness and makes it eas
I was really more interested in reading the first book that he wrote, but the library didn't have it. This book was easy to read, but I didn't think it was well written. He talks about what it was like after coming back from Iraq and the dog's "adjustment" to life in America. I'm sorry, but a dog doesn't know if it's in America or Iraq or Timbuktu for that matter. Maybe he was using the dog to represent his own adjustment to coming back to America. He also talked about how the dog had PTSD, beca ...more
Considering this a is a follow-up to -From Baghdad, With Love-, I was expecting it to be more about Lava. Instead, it seems to primarily be Kopelman's way of wrestling with the PTSD he surely has, but won't admit to. It was a bit too "oo-rah" for me and some of Kopelman's offhand statements rubbed me the wrong way (for example, his comment about nurturing children to be exclusively the mother's job). I also find it frustrating that he makes such a big point of encouraging others to go seek help ...more
Garden Girl
Interesting account of feelings of Marine returned from Bagdad with his rescue dog. Attributes much to his dog, Lava. I enjoyed learning some first hand from a military person who had served in Afghanistan.
Short & to the point. I would think that I would have the same feelings about life in general as the author, if I were a soldier and lived his experiences. Heck, I have a lot of the same feelings already, without the selfless work of a military man. The pettiness and entitlement the average American exudes sicken him as they do me. I cannot imagine the depth of those thoughts if fostered by war.

I have not read 'From Baghdad with Love,' but I think I would like to, even out of order, just to
Lindsay Foster
I didn't like this book as much as I did the first one, From Baghdad with Love, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. Col. Kopelman focused on life with Lava after returning home from Iraq. He not only focused on how Lava adjusted, but also how he adjusted and how he could relate to Lava. Col. Kopelman shed light on issues a lot of servicemen encounter after coming home from Iraq and shared the many problems of negative stigma of mental health in the military. This was of great interest to me. Col. Ko ...more
This is a continuation of Jay Kopelman's first book: From Baghdad with Love. In that book, Jay risks everything to smuggle a puppy named Lava from Baghdad back to America.

But this book isn't so much about the dog. It's more about Jay's struggle to resume a life of 'normality' once he retires from active duty, with Lava by his side.

This book brilliantly explains why those who return from active duty in war zones are not the same person as they were when they first left. Everyone should read it.
I thought I was requesting from Baghdad with Love from the library and instead realized when I picked this book up that I was going to read them out of order. With that being said, I liked this book even though it vacillated from being loving to angry to totally off topic of Lava. The messages were strong and clear and I appreciate that he is trying to reach out to vets and their families that PTSD is something to treat and not be embarrassed to go to therapy.
I checked this book out from the library on accident. I was looking for the book preceding it, From Baghdad with Love. This book is a continuance of that story. The first book focused on the dog and how he journeyed from Iraq to the US. This was more a story of the soldier and the effect on soldiers coming back from war. It was an okay story, just not what I was looking for. I'm waiting for the first book to come in so I can hear more about the dog and his journey
Janine Shelton
At first I had expected more about Lava, but when you take into account that it says right in the title "Life Lessons from a Dog Named Lava," I realized the book was more about what Jay has learned from the experience of helping Lava overcome his own PTSD. I think it's a great way to show our military men and women that there is no shame in asking for help and seeking therapy. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to that knows how to listen.
I didn't realize this was a follow-up to another book - I haven't read the first book and probably won't.

This book was good and the narration (I listened to the audiobook) was well done. He definitely has some mental problems (and when I say "he" I mean both the author and the dog) but the love they have for each other is strong.

My father was in the Marines for 20 years, so I have a special affinity to military stories.
The mental health part is very informative.
"It's how you comport yourself and what you do for others in life that really matters. It's the capacity to give - and to receive great joy in doing so - that ultimately gives us happiness.My advice to you is to live your life with all the gusto and pleasure of a dog."

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The Marines don't have that problem. Ronald Reagan"
Always interesting to hear a first hand account of war experiences. A dog (found in a metal drum) during a firefight ends up with PTSD along with his eventual owner. It is the story of Lava, the dog and his owner as they try to recover and rejoin life. How Lava got to America is a little unclear, but his arrival helped the war vet find a wife and family and share in his recovery. (Listened to this on audio)
Alden Mackie
Just like his first book, this was a great story and the direct call to soldiers returning from war to seek help for their PTSD was excellent, however I still have a huge gripe with the length of his work. These books should be sold for half the price since you get half the content of a "normal" book. At the very least this could have been put as an addendum to the original book in a reprint.
Jul 06, 2010 Linette rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dog lovers, those interested in military anecdotes
Lt. Col., you did it again. Your book brought me to tears! I did like "From Baghdad, With Love" better. His first book read more like a narrative and this book more like an autobiography. This book was informative about PTSD that many service members suffer from after combat.

"When does reality become just nightmares, and when do nightmares become your reality?"
I love books about dogs. That's it. Books about dogs. This book had good points on how Lava helped the author with his emotional issues, but the central theme is not about the dog. I was disappointed. I'm happy that the author is getting the help he needs. End of story.
A little more about the soldier than the dog, but the story of how they managed once they were home.
No easy path to acclimating themselves back into society after living through the horrors of the war in Iraq. An ongoing journy of discovering how messed up they were and how to get help and why they both needed it. Another compelling story with a happy ending.
This book talks about how a retired marine adjusts to life in the civilian world after his latest deployment to Iraq and saving a dog by bringing it back to the US. I really hope it is read by many of our returning troops because he addresses some really important issues, such as the reluctance to seek professional mental health care for those that need it.
Though not as good a read as the first book, I was still pleased to learn the fate of Lava and Jay as they transitioned to civilian life. I was also surprised to learn so much about the problems faced by returning soldiers as the make the transition and have a better understanding of the problems that arise for them.
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Other Books in the Series

Lava (2 books)
  • From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava (Lava #1)
From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava (Lava #1) Z Bagdádu, s láskou

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“Every marriage that ends in divorce; every serviceman who kills him- or herself; and every time a young warrior experience substance abuse issues, we witness a casualty of war.” 1 likes
“Of course I apologized, but I couldn’t shake the sense that I was truly an asshole.” 0 likes
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