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Lava #1

From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava

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When Marines enter an abandoned house in Fallujah, Iraq, and hear a suspicious noise, they clench their weapons, edge around the corner, and prepare to open fire.

What they find during the U.S -led attack on the "most dangerous city on Earth," however, is not an insurgent bent on revenge, but a tiny puppy left behind when most of the city’s population fled before the bombing. Despite military law that forbids the keeping of pets, the Marines de-flea the pup with kerosene, de-worm him with chewing tobacco, and fill him up on Meals Ready to Eat.
Thus begins the dramatic rescue attempt of a dog named Lava and Lava’s rescue of at least one Marine, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman, from the emotional ravages of war.

From hardened Marines to war-time journalists to endangered Iraqi citizens, From Baghdad, With Love tells an unforgettable true story of an unlikely band of heroes who learn unexpected lessons about life, death, and war from a mangy little flea-ridden refugee.

196 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

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Jay Kopelman

6 books10 followers

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5 stars
3,062 (40%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 659 reviews
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,229 reviews2,731 followers
August 20, 2017
When the group of Marines discovered the abandoned puppy during a mission in Fallujah, Iraq, they named the 5-week-old pup Lava – against regulations and every rule in the book, they adopted him; and every one of them fell in love with the adorable scrap of mischief.

Jay Kopelman was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps – tough, strong and deeply into the Marine brotherhood, nevertheless, he was damned if he was going to let anyone shoot his puppy! The rescue attempt by Jay and his fellow marines suddenly took on a life of its own – the collusion of people from the US including journalists and ex-Marines, as well as people from Iraq would have an unforgettable impact on Jay Kopelman...

From Baghdad, With Love is a wonderful, true story by Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman; where the ravages of war were broken and lifted by the love of one small puppy. It’s heartwarming to read Lava’s story, and I enjoyed From Baghdad, With Love very much. Recommended.
Profile Image for Buggy.
501 reviews682 followers
August 5, 2010
Opening line:"I don't remember exactly when I got to the house that served as our command post in the northwest sector of Fallujah, and I don't remember exactly how I got there."

This was a surprisingly great read that held me captivated from beginning to end and I've been recommending it like crazy to all my friends. FROM BAGHDAD WITH LOVE tells the heartwarming and somewhat heartbreaking story of a starving abandoned puppy named Lava and the hardened marine who along with wartime journalists, Iraqi citizens and many, many others that saved him from certain death on the bombed out streets of Iraq and eventually got him onto US soil.

Well written and containing 8 pages of photographs there is no secret to Lava's outcome but this is still an utterly fascinating story. Lava is initially discovered by the Third Marines unit known as The Lava Dogs when they storm an abandoned house in Fallujah Iraq and almost shoot him. Then not knowing what to do with the 5 week old puppy and forbidden by military law to keep pets the marines begin feeding and caring for the dog as they set up a command center in the abandoned house. Lava's presence allows the soldiers a pass from reality, a small piece of sweetness and normalcy in their daily hell and something else to think about other than getting killed. Has anybody fed the dog today? There are some touching scenes as we witness these big tough military men falling apart, talking in baby talk and playing with the puppy as he pees on their boots and destroys their belongings and they think he's cute.

Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman is eventually adopted by Lava who chooses his boots to sleep in. Subsequently several scenes play out like a movie as Lava is hidden and moved between red and green military zones and finally crated as they attempt to drive him across the Jordanian border. The last few chapters are really exciting, and even though you know the outcome you will find yourself wondering, how exactly are they going to pull this off?

I learned a surprising amount about the war in Iraq reading this book and really got a feel for what the soldiers go through on a daily basis living in a war zone. Just how hard it must be to maintain your sanity amidst all the chaos and death. The ending is WOW and had me close to tears, as it's Lava who ultimately saves one marine from the emotional ravages of war. This is a book that I can highly recommend, especially if you're a dog lover in addition you'll get to learn a little something about a war that most of us barely notice anymore when the images and numbers flash past on our TV screens.
March 5, 2018

“O meu sonho é a realidade, a que não posso fugir, nem sequer quando durmo.”
- Tenente Coronel Jay Kopelman

* * *
“Sinto orgulho naquilo que sou - um fuzileiro. Gosto de ser forte. Gosto de ser corajoso. Gosto de avançar primeiro. Quero avançar primeiro, e raios me partam se vou deixar alguém matar-me o cachorro.”
- Tenente Coronel Jay Kopelman

* * *
“É mais pequeno que um saco de areia mas comporta-se como um animal selvagem. O Lava rói qualquer coisa que pertença a qualquer um - almofadas, cobertores, roupas, cabos de plástico de armas - e quando descobre os chinelos de banho do tipo lá vai ele na sua missão de busca-e-destrói. Então seleciona um par de botas de um fuzileiro e mija nelas - e apenas naquelas - noite após noite.”
- Sargento Matt Hammond

* * *
“Hoje ele ajudou-me a manter a sanidade. Estava simplesmente exausta deste lugar e deste trabalho e fui brincar um pouco com ele.”
- Annie Garrels

* * *
“O sentido da vida não é atingir a felicidade. É ser prestável, honrado, compassivo e marcar a diferença vivendo da melhor forma.” - Ralph Waldo Emmerson
- Bonnie Buckley
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
October 14, 2020
From Baghdad, With Love just made me fall even more in love with dogs.

I mean, first off, this cover is freaking adorable. I love all kinds of dogs and this little puppy is giving me all kinds of puppy fever. Second, this book took me on a very emotional roller coaster ride. The ending just gave me so many happy tears because it was just a very beautiful book.

In it you will meet Jay who ends up with a little buddy. This sweet young pup crosses paths with him and unlike what his fellow mates have done - he doesn't kill the puppy. Instead, he actually ends up keeping Lava and forming the sweetest bond ever!

Now these two go through so much. The journey back to one another was beyond adorable and I might've cried a bit here and there. There was just something about these two that made me smile and laugh. Oh lord, I died when he said something along the lines of, 'that was the face of a dog that was going to tackle the shit out of me'. It made me think of one of my dogs, Bailey, who goes complete ape shit when she sees you. Or you play hide and go seek. I believe she was a linebacker in her previous life because the girl leaves some bruises.

Honestly, I didn't expect to be a hot mess while listening to this book. It just made me look at my two dogs and snuggle the crap out of them. Dogs really are the most precious things and need to be protected at all costs.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,975 reviews53 followers
December 11, 2015
The parts about the dog rescue were sweet. This little dog was adopted and taken care of by American soldiers when they discovered he had been abandoned in a building. He looks like such a cutie. The account given about the soldier, Kopelman, was not so sweet. He was a little on the socially awkward side. But I appreciated his love for his dog and how he managed to bring him home.
Profile Image for James.
Author 11 books91 followers
May 4, 2012
This is a beautiful story about people in bleak and soul-poisoning situations trying to find something life-affirming that will help them hold up and keep going. People who are surrounded by war, grinding poverty, disasters, and personal tragedies all have these needs in common - like the rest of humanity, just more so.

This is a memoir by a Marine, then-Major Jay Kopelman, of how his unit adopted an abandoned puppy they came across in the middle of the battle of Falujah, one of the worst in terms of brutal house-by-house and room-by-room fighting through a whole city since Hue during Tet 1968 and Stalingrad in World War II. They took the puppy in because having him around made them feel good, and named him Lava because their unit's nickname was 'Lava Dogs.' They knew they were violating a policy the military takes pretty seriously, banning units adopting animals other than military working dogs, and the author in particular, as the highest-ranking officer involved, knew he was risking his career for this dog. He did, though, up to and including coordinating a complex plan to smuggle Lava back the States and adopt him there when he came back himself.

It's well written, often hilarious, but not eliding over the horror and brutality of the Iraq war. As a still-serving senior officer, now-Lieutenant Colonel Kopelman is surprisingly frank and cynical about the politics behind the war, the non-existent WMDs, and the corruption and incompetence of the Coalition Provisional Authority and often the Iraqi military his unit was trying to train. It also captures beautifully the subculture of the Marine Corps with all its irreverence, bluntness, gallows humor, and frequently surreal nature. When I finished reading it, I was crying. My wife asked why. I told her it was partly because I love animals and this one reminded me of a dog I loved and lost to cancer many years ago now, and partly because it brought home to me how much I still miss the Marine Corps (I retired 16 years ago and have had a full and rewarding life since, but it will always be where I grew up and a second family to me.)

If you like animals, military people, moving memoirs, weird humor, or all of the above, read this book.
Profile Image for Stephen Wallace.
609 reviews73 followers
January 13, 2022
First I really liked the book so that is why I am giving it 5 stars. It was different, his writing style is very colorful and seems to pack a punch into each paragraph. I also respect those who serve our country, in particular our Marines.

They find the puppy while doing searches of buildings in Fallujah and then the rest of the book is spent finding a way to get the dog back to America instead of being killed like dogs found on bases are supposed to be dealt with. Interesting story and the organization of the book keeps the suspense going.

The big factor in this book is that it deals with the Iraq war during it's worse time leading up to the election. References to death are frequent. Some people may not enjoy hearing about them. Then now that the Biden administration handed back Iraq to the insurgents and left so many people behind, so that it is far worse then our withdrawal from Vietnam, being reminded of our sacrifice and investment all going for naught is painful.

Wesley Banks has it on his website at this time in his list of 100 best books on dogs. So much depends on what a persons criteria is to consider it one of the top 100, but while the book is good, and the dog is in through-out this book as the common thread, we only hear of the dog's roo-roo-roo, chewing, and going to the bathroom. So the real focus is on the Colonel and all those who took on the risk to help a helpless little dog. To me, a 'best' dog book has more of the dog in it. Still a great book.
Profile Image for Carol Storm.
Author 28 books193 followers
January 14, 2018
Powerful story of Marines in combat and the dog they rescue from certain death.
Profile Image for Connie Faull.
460 reviews6 followers
September 8, 2011
I give this book 4 stars. Although the military brass and the hordes of brains and suits at the Pentagon don’t like military members in combat to adopt animals ,they say it’s against regulations for “health reasons,” actually it’s because they don’t want them to feel normal human compassion when their jobs require them to kill the enemy. You let a little compassion slip in and what might happen when you’re in the field and instead of acting on your training you start to think.

But what the Pentagon cronies, most of whom have never seen combat, don’t take into consideration is the stress relief and mental health that animals provide to service members while they are deployed in a combat zone. Animals give them something to take care of, a companion that doesn’t judge them, but only wants to receive and give love and companionship.

The story is funny at times, like when Lt. Col. Kopelman describes the way the Marine platoon reacts to Lava:

“Still, the best part is how these Marines, these elite, these well-oiled machines of war who in theory can kill another human being in a hundred unique ways, become mere mortals in the presence of a tiny mammal. I’m shocked to hear a weird, misty tone in my fellow Marines’ voices, a weird, misty look in their eyes, and weird, misty words that end in ee.

‘You had yuckee little buggees all over you when we found you, huh? Now you’re a brave little toughee. Are you our brave little toughee? You’re a brave, little toughee, yessiree.’”

And even touching when he describes the moment one of the Marines who has been watching over Lava while he (Kopelman) was sent to the Syrian border, has to hand over Lava to Anne Garrells, the NPR reporter who agreed to watch out for Lava since the military started enforcing the regulation banning “pets” in war zones and began killing cats and dogs found on bases:

“When they finally connect, Matt hands Lava over to Anne. It’s kind of an ordeal for him, because, you know, he’s a Marine standing in front of a bunch of other Marines who don’t want to see one of their own all wimped out over a puppy, only they’re all a little wimped out over the puppy, and Anne, who doesn’t want to be seen in the company of wimpy Marines, grabs Lava and leaves as fast as she can.”

This story is mostly about Lava and Lt. Col. Kopelman’s relationship and his frantic actions to try to get Lava back to the states, he also tells some important stories about what it was like to be in Iraq and just what these people we continue to call the insurgency were capable of, like the story below which describes how the insurgents used a boy with Down Syndrome as a suicide bomber instead of using animals which they had been doing, but couldn’t control well enough:

“So they reverted to something even better-people like nineteen-year-old Amar, who had Down Syndrome. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Amar’s parents went out to vote and then went to a relative’s house for a celebratory party. While they were gone, insurgents kidnapped Amar, strapped a bomb to him, and told him to walk toward a polling site”

“Amar’s parents heard the blast from their party, and when word spread that a “mongoli” was the bomber, they raced home to find Amar gone. Amar’s cousin told the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘they got neighbors to search and one of them identified Amar’s head where it lay on the pavement.’”

He also discusses how inept the US government was with money and how there was a ridiculous amount of fraud, waste & abuse that went on over there. “Later, former senior adviser to the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority would say that Iraq was a ‘free fraud zone’ as a result of the US government’s refusal to prosecute contractors and companies accused of corruption.”

This was a very good book, a short, quick read. I recommend this if you are an animal lover or even if you aren’t, the book offers other informative information about what it was like to be a Marine in Fallujah in 2005.
Profile Image for Rachel.
373 reviews12 followers
October 1, 2010
I read the first half of this a month ago and then, what with one thing and another, couldn't seem to get back to it. I was thinking this meant that it wasn't terribly compelling, but earlier today when I was sitting in a waiting room with nothing to do finally finish reading it, I had to try not to cry in great big heaving sobs, even though it would have given all the people who forgot to bring a book something to look at.

Jay Kopelman was a Marine colonel on active duty in Iraq in 2004 when his battalion, known as the Lava Dogs, were looking for insurgents in an abandoned house in Fallujah, and instead found a mangy little puppy that they took back to their compound. They named him Lava, fed him a combination of MREs and bits of beef jerky, and dewormed him with chewing tobacco. The dog gravitated toward Kopelman, who quickly assumed ownership of him, despite military regulations banning pets and in some cases requiring that stray animals be killed. Over the next six months, Kopelman, with the help of his fellow Marines and various civilians, both American and Iraqi, battled military red tape, Iraqi law, and the constant danger that accompanies just trying to move from place to place in a war zone to get Lava out of Iraq and into the United States, where Kopelman would soon be stationed. The details of trying to arrange for Lava's evacuation are interspersed with and inseparable from the day-to-day realities of war, which are frustrating and harrowing in equal measure.

Although the story was covered extensively in the media as a happy and heartwarming story of A Boy and His Dog, the real story was darker:

"Maybe the little shit is dead already. Or maybe they didn't make it through and he's now lost on the streets of Baghdad wondering where everybody went. I pray that if Lava doesn't make it through, he'll find a body somewhere in Baghdad to keep him alive for just one more day.

Which brings me to the last part of my confession: I want Lava to stay alive. No matter how bad things get, it's still better to be alive. I want to know he's breathing and leaping after dust balls and chasing imaginary enemies in his sleep. I want him to be alive, because then there's still hope that he'll make it here to California and get to be an American dog who runs on the beach and chases the mailman instead of strangers with guns. I want him to be alive almost more than anything I can think of, which feels like a confession, because before Lava, I was a marine who wasn't required to cross any lines with ALIVE on one side and DEAD on the other. I carried a rucksack full of coupons redeemable towards absolution. Now, after meeting Lava and letting fear in, I feel distantly related to a serial killer."

What comes through in Kopelman and co-author Melissa Roth's account is that as much as the effort to save Lava was just that, it was also about saving Kopelman himself. The tone of the writing is conversational and there's a lot of profanity, so this isn't a book you're going to want to read to your kids just because it has a nice doggie on the cover. This is a fast read, but sometimes a gruesome one, and I won't spoil the ending (even though I think it's on the book jacket, so not really a spoiler), but I will say that Lava doesn't come to a bad end. Really, it's just an odd little story that shows people at their best and at their worst; all in all, an excellent book.

Profile Image for Tempo de Ler.
729 reviews96 followers
June 18, 2012
{Blog} http://tempodler.blogspot.pt/2012/06/...

Li este pequenino livro na praia, no espaço temporal de um dia. E sim, é isso mesmo que eu vou para a praia fazer - ler! Isso e praguejar contra as pessoas que vão para lá dormir e, consequentemente, ressonar sonoramente...e contra os miúdos que vão para lá correr, guinchar, e levantar a areia toda...e contra a minha irmã, que ainda não percebeu que se eu quisesse saber os últimos mexericos sobre o alegado jet7 português eu própria pegava no raio da revista e a lia! E não, choquem-se - não gosto de praia!

*Respirar fundo*

Além do ambiente hostil em que me encontrava, cuja única escapatória era a leitura compulsiva, o outro motivo pelo qual não consegui parar de ler este livro foi a premência de saber o que acontecia com Lava.

De Bagdade com Amor recorda-nos que as pessoas não são as únicas vítimas de guerra. Escrevendo de forma pura e prática, Kopelman descreve-nos um cenário de guerra - o estado degradado das ruas, a vida arriscada dos soldados, as injustiças e atrocidades cometidas em tempos de guerra, como o uso de animais para detonação de bombas. O autor transmite-nos a brutalidade da realidade que viveu, sem dourar a pílula, e no meio disto tudo descreve-nos o consolo e alegria que um pequeno cão ter para oferecer, até mesmo àqueles que presenciam bem de perto a guerra.

É fascinante e também comovedor observar o esforço e dedicação de todas as pessoas envolvidas na tentativa de levar Lava em segurança para os Estados Unidos...mas não conseguimos deixar de pensar nos inúmeros outros que ficam para trás.

A leitura de De Bagdade com Amor é difícil, despertando emoções fortes como o choque e a revolta, desejando ansiosamente que Lava consiga, por fim, sair daquele sítio o mais depressa possível. No meu caso, tive que fazer várias pausas para digerir a leitura (ou resmungar com alguém menos oportuno...), evitando o embaraço de ser apanhada na praia a choramingar para cima de um livro com um cãozinho ultra-fofo na capa.
Profile Image for Cassy.
250 reviews737 followers
November 10, 2009
Oh man. I should not have read this book right now! I am currently in delicate negotiations with my husband about getting a puppy. And this book only heightens my I-want-a-dog-now fervor. See, dear husband – dogs are great! Even in the middle of war-torn Iraq, a U.S. Marine grew attached to a rambunctious puppy named Lava and undertook the arduous process of getting Lava to the U.S. If Kopelman can fall in love with a dog in those dire circumstances, you too can fall in love with a new puppy in our peaceful townhouse!

Anyways. The book is very touching and easy to read. I do have some critiques: The writing style is too colloquial and choppy for my taste. The changes in point-of-view away from Kopelman are ineffective. And I get the impression that Kopelman fits the military guy stereotype of being emotionally removed. I can just imagine his co-author sitting across the table from him, shaking her head at his practical step-by-step summary and pleading with him to talk about his feelings. He does expose himself. Bravo for that. But sometimes I still wanted more and/or got lost in his explanations of how he felt.

Yet, overall, I am happy to have read this one. I really appreciate the no-frills insight he provided into the situation in Iraq, as well as the little tidbits about dogs’ historic and present role in warfare. Although, sometimes the book veers a tad too far from the focus on Lava with these detours. Then it operates more as journalistic overview of the conflict in Iraq than a tight memoir. But I am willing to forgive this, because I see the necessity of setting the backdrop of danger at every corner and serving as a good ambassador for the U.S. troops (and dogs) in Iraq.

And as an avid listener of all things National Public Radio (NPR), I am pleased to read how helpful their staff was in securing Lava’s well-being. Maybe I will give more money next pledge drive - even forgo the complimentary coffee mug!

Profile Image for Laura.
716 reviews
February 24, 2009
This book was incredibly heart wrenching, hopeful, and disturbing.

What the military has done to our soldiers to prevent them from feeling compassion for even animals is disgusting. I understand the need to keep soldiers able to kill other people for the sake of a country's safety and security, but to actively kill animals that some servicepeople have grown attached to is just beyond awful.

Even though this story has a happy ending for Lava the puppy found in Fallujah, Iraq, the author, a Lt. Col. Marine describes in detail the heartbreaking consequences of other pets military personnel have tried to save.

This is a worthwhile read (and gives you hope that there are some good people out there) but avoid it if you think this is an entirely happy-go-lucky story. It's not. It worked out for one dog, for which I am so happy, but all I can think about is all the other animals and people stuck in horrible places that have no option or escape.

It was nice to read that NPR's Anne Garrels and other NPR staff helped get Lava over to the US. I have listened to NPR for years and it was nice to know that they are, once again, a cut above the other networks.
Profile Image for Bec.
1,072 reviews10 followers
February 3, 2009
I absolutly melted at the cover and wasn't disappointed by the story. It's about a US Marine who's company finds a dog in an abandoned house in the middle of a war zone (Iraq) starting in 2004. What attracted me was not necessarily the story of man and dog but of living in the war itself - it was told in the most beautiful way and gives human meaning behind the pictures we see and articles we read around areas of war, you could feel emotion and the atmosphere.

The simple comment of why not save a child over an animal highlights the overall naitivity of society and his respone of at least i saved something, depressing and hopeful at the same time.

Its a short read but I definately have taken away some new perspectives and has given me plently to think about.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
27 reviews16 followers
November 11, 2009
Kopelman keeps it 'real' about the war in Iraq and the things highly trained soldiers go through, mentally, physically or otherwise. Saving Lava kept him from completely losing his humanity. Kopelman offers a laugh-your-butt-off commentary about the dog's antics, cliffhanger worry about whether or not Lava's story will end well, and a big picture of Lava's healing power and the hope that there are a lot of good people out there willing to offer a helping hand. I found myself laughing, I found myself crying. I picked this up on a lark, and I am so glad I did. If you're a dog lover, or you just want a general 'feel good' story, I highly recommend!

June 23, 2015
So often, the stories we hear from the War on Terror are centrally about heartache and sadness, and the frailty of human kindness and courage. This one is a small and steady light, pouring through all that darkness. Little Lava's story is impossible not to love. It works down into the squishy parts of your heart, and you can't help but feel like you understand Jay Kopelman's desire to save Lava, even though you really don't. You have no idea what he and the thousands of other armed servicemen and women go through daily. But I am so thankful that he chose to write his story, with so much candor and surprising loquaciousness.
Profile Image for Marialyce (on our way to Venice).
2,038 reviews709 followers
May 25, 2014
This book is a quick read, but one that is quite worthwhile. It is essentially a story about a boy and his dog and how even war and its heinousness can't stop a man from loving and caring for his dog, even if that man is a tough marine. It is well worth the read.
Profile Image for Dawn.
809 reviews34 followers
August 12, 2015
A very emotional story. The bond between the Marine and Lava was touching and the efforts made to bring the dog to America were heroic. It is very sad to read about how dogs and other animals are treated over there, but then not surprising since humans are not treated much better.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.7k reviews447 followers
September 13, 2015
Like the everyone around Lava I found myself sucked into him. I get how the puppy won over the hard Marine, how the dog helped everyone keep a little sane and a sense of home when doing a horrible job. I was glad to see this one have a happy ending.
Profile Image for Jan.
416 reviews8 followers
March 17, 2022
Heartwarming memoir of a marine veteran of the Iraq War and the mangy, flea-bitten puppy he found and saved in Fallujah in 2004. Or did the puppy save the marine? Read it to find out.
Profile Image for Dawn Emsen-Hough.
291 reviews7 followers
January 7, 2019
An amazing story - a lot of "war detail" which I found hard to stay engaged with and the only reason for my lower rating but for those who have served or are interested in the detail of war, I'd imagine it would be a very different story. The amazing thing for me was the length that so many people went to, to get this dog to the U.S. - it was inspirational and nothing short of phenomenal. The story highlights the incredible hold that these beautiful animals have on us... not called "man's best friend" without reason.
Profile Image for Lara.
4,154 reviews340 followers
June 8, 2013
Megan loaned me this book like two years ago (Maybe three now? Jeez...) and I've put off reading it until now because I knew it would probably make me cry. And it did.

While the writing is not all that great, Kopelman is very honest about what the situation was in Baghdad and Fallujah during the war; it actually kind of surprised me that at times he's pretty critical of certain policies and about U.S. military thinking, although never in a way that sounds overly bitter or angry. Some of that may have been toned down, I don't know, but I thought what he said about soldiers being trained not to think things through, just to kill the enemy, and how something about interacting with animals like Lava made them human again made a lot of sense. His account of the war made me really sad, and I get totally emotional about dogs, so the story of how ridiculously hard it was to get Lava out of Iraq and home with him also made me really sad. I love that there's a happy ending there, though he certainly doesn't gloss over the fact that both he and Lava have struggles because of the things they've experienced in Iraq.

I also loved that Anne Garrels plays such a big part in things. I remember listening to her reporting on NPR during the war, and it was really interesting to read about this other situation that was going on behind the scenes at the same time.

It's a very compelling story, and, I think, definitely worth a read for dog lovers and people looking for a slightly different picture of the war in Iraq.

I'm glad I finally gave it a chance, even if it did make me cry (several times)!
8 reviews
October 31, 2008
This book is a heart-warming tale of a Marine's self-appointed mission to rescue a stray puppy from war-torn Iraq. It is a fast, easy read that will pluck your heart strings, and maybe even bring a tear to your eyes.

I absolutely recommend this book to three groups.
1)Anyone who loves dogs.
2)Anyone who loves someone who has been to Iraq in the military.
3)Anyone who has been to Iraq.

For those who have been to Iraq, you will recognize in Jay Kopelman the intense loneliness that everyone there experiences. I fully understand the author's obsession with getting "Lava" out of Iraq. I have violated GO-1A a few times by petting dogs. The joy, and sense of connection I felt was overwhelming each time. I think that only those who have been to Iraq can understand that. For those who love someone who has been to Iraq, it will help you to understand the true suffering of our military members. It is not just the danger, or the death, or the discomfort, but the intense loneliness. As I complete this book, and look forward to my upcoming return to America, I long for contact with my wife and our pets.

Please read this book and enjoy it. Recognize the healing ability that dogs have for the human psyche...they understand us better than we understand ourselves I think.
Profile Image for Shahine Ardeshir.
171 reviews
November 16, 2014
This is the story of a US marine who, in the middle of an excruciating posting in Iraq, stumbles upon a little puppy. A puppy who, despite regulations prohibiting it, he decides to adopt, and eventually take home to the US with him. It is as simple - and heart-warming - a tale as that.

I loved how honest, gritty, disturbing, warm and humane this story was. It told the tale of a war zone in a sad but open manner, and I learned a lot about the country and the conflict that I didn't know. The fact that it was true, that Lava (the now-grown-up puppy) and his owner are alive and well and happy at the end of it, made it even better.

The loveliest notion, though, is that even someone as psychologically jarred, emotionally empty and physically exhausted as a soldier in a hostile battle zone, can be lit up inside by something as simple and wonderful as a little puppy. In an increasingly cynical world, that's one powerful notion, isn't it?

I would strongly recommend you read this book, if nothing else then to restore your faith in what's good in this world.
Profile Image for Jordan Larsen.
Author 4 books9 followers
January 14, 2019
An inspiring story of love, bravery and friendship in one Marine's gripping and heartfelt memoir "From Baghdad With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava." Here, the War on Terror has reached a perilous state as U.S. and Coalition Forces push into Iraqi Dictator Saddam's backyard in an effort to stop his reign of terror and his twisted pursuit of biological and chemical weapons. In the middle of all this insanity is a little puppy who serves as a four-legged refugee in the world's most dangerous place.

As a U.S. Marine goes out on patrol with his brothers-in-arms one day, he comes across a little puppy who he and his teammates adopt as their child. Named Lava because of the team's origins in Hawaii, the little puppy takes to the Marines in a very profound way. Spending time with injured comrades and befriending a news reporter who devises a plan to get Lava out of Iraq and flown to the safety of America. This touching story should be a movie! Well worth the time to read!
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,738 reviews475 followers
January 29, 2012
When a group of Marines storm an abandoned house looking for insurgents, they hear strange noises. That's when they discovered a little puppy that had survived the bombing in Fallujah. Although there is a regulation forbidding the Marines from keeping pets, the little dog won the hearts of the tough Marines, especially Jay Kopelman.

This is the story of Jay's attempt to bring the puppy, Lava, back to the United States with him. The book also tells the story of the military in Iraq in 2004-2005 around the time of the Iraqi elections. Lava was a bright spot in the midst of all the killing. He seemed to help the Marines reduce their stress when they could forget the war for a few minutes and play with the puppy. Although the book had a happy ending for Lava, there were many Iraqis and American military personel that were not as lucky.
Profile Image for LibraryCin.
2,314 reviews49 followers
April 9, 2016
A group of Marines in Iraq found a puppy in an abandoned building they took over. They named the puppy Lava, and despite a military order not to care for any animals, the Marines fell for the cute little guy, and Kopelman started to worry about what would happen to Lava when they left. He did everything he could to make sure Lava was brought to the United States.

It was good and what animal-lover wouldn’t fall for the cute, but slightly obnoxious puppy Lava!? Loved reading about Lava, and found that more interesting than the details of the extremely difficult task of shipping him to the U.S. No surprise that I teared up a few times.
Profile Image for Heidi.
11 reviews
December 1, 2008
I just finished reading this book last night. I would recommend it to anyone who loves animals. The military jargon at times was confusing. At times it was also difficult to read about the atrocities to animals and humans. I appreciated his honesty in the book. I also found the use of animals in the military to be interesting but shocking. I was appalled at what the soldiers over there witness and know they will never be the same. Although I don't think the writing was that good, it was interesting perspective on a marine's time in Iraq.
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