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

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  474 Ratings  ·  62 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
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
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
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
Jun 01, 2009 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 14, 2014 Veru rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 08, 2014 Shirley rated it it was amazing
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
Cole Joneson
Sep 29, 2015 Cole Joneson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine fighting in Fallujah, one of the most dangerous places in the world, and seeing some of the most horrific things a person can ever see in their life. But a companion helps you connect to the person you were before the terrible event. New York Times bestselling author Jay Kopelman gives us an insight into his amazing story about how a dog changed his life in the book From Baghdad to America. As a dog lover, this book was really interesting to me. I realized that dogs are not only family b ...more
Apr 10, 2013 Casey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 01, 2015 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life, military, pets
I picked up this book, because: dog, and di$count. But if I could do it over again, I would read the first book (From Baghdad With Love) first, before this one. This is, as another reviewer said, like an extended epilogue. It's also a book that I think is less targeted to a civilian reader and more for repatriated vets -- the message being, please acknowledge and get the support you need to move forward in life; there's no shame, because it is what it is.

Actually, I guess that's a pretty univers
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
Jul 29, 2008 Teresa rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 04, 2008 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2011 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
Jan 25, 2009 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Carla Harris
Aug 14, 2015 Carla Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book 10 stars I would.

I have done many research papers on PTSD in my Psychology degree and Masters. Reading and thinking of ways that could our men and women who are coming home from deployment. Your book has finally has answered so many questions. Has helped write the conclusion to my latest paper, and gives me hope that maybe if more Vets read this it will break the barrier of silence and they will feel it is OK to seek help. Stop the stigma of finding someone who can stop
Lindsay Foster
Jan 19, 2013 Lindsay Foster rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has such an interesting take on posttraumatic stress. We learn more about the author, and I don't even necessarily like him, but he opens up about his journey to destigmatize his own need for mental health care by looking at PTS through the eyes of his dog, which is pretty cool. He takes on meds and gives a shout out to virtual reality therapy-- so all in all, an interesting take on a subject i know well. I think if you don't know PTS that well, you will get a real education. Definitel ...more
Oct 06, 2012 Suzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dog-books
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.
OK, I didn't read the prequel to this book, and I didn't really have any particular expectations. This story is really more about adapting to civilian life after a career in the military than it is about the dog. Having managed to rescue a dog from war torn Iraq as he rejoins civilian life, the author readily identifies ptsd in his dog then begins to see that maybe he has issues of his own. Rescuing his dog, Lava, has obviously benefited them both in many ways, and maybe some of the rest of us a ...more
Pam Marden
I thought this was a good book. It shows the difficulties of a serviceman returning to civilian life and how even dogs can suffer from PTSD. I commend LTC Kopelman for his service to our country both during his time in the service and his work for our vets in his civilian life. I liked this book even though, at times, it was difficult to see the things our service people have to face in war zones and how they are treated after they come back. Thank you to all who serve our have served in our mil ...more
Oct 28, 2010 Stacie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Aug 17, 2015 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of dogs and service men and women dealing with the aftermath of war.
Recommended to Dawn by: I read the first book about Lava's rescue.
A look at Lava's life after he made it to America. I'm so glad he has a loving family to take care of him. Both he and Jay have been through hell from their time in Iraq. Suffering from PTSD and getting help for that is important. Many people would have a hard time handling a dog like Lava, but since they were together in Iraq, Jay understands Lava's demons and can help him to try and work past his fears.
Nov 11, 2011 Hava rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Connie D
Like With Baghdad with Love, this book is more enlightening than enjoyable. The writing is clear and frank and appealing to military-types (lots of familiar phrases for me), not literary. That's fine, especially if it helps anyone get help for PTSD, which Lava the dog obviously has had and Jay had to a lesser degree. This is very helpful in understanding the experience of war veterans returning to civilian life. May they all find comfort and joy in life again.
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.
Jun 22, 2012 Jessica rated it it was ok
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
"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"
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Other Books in the Series

Lava (2 books)
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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
“I have convictions, and the courage of my convictions allows me to overcome my fears and act in a courageous manner...” 1 likes
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