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From Baghdad to America: Life after War for a Marine and His Rescued Dog

From Baghdad to America: Life after War for a Marine and His Rescued Dog

4.3 18
by Jay Kopelman

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Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman won the hearts of readers everywhere with his moving story of adopting an abandoned puppy named Lava from a hellish corner of Iraq. He opened the door for other soldiers to bring dogs home, and in From Baghdad to America, Kopelman once again leads the pack with his observations on the emotional repercussions of war.



Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman won the hearts of readers everywhere with his moving story of adopting an abandoned puppy named Lava from a hellish corner of Iraq. He opened the door for other soldiers to bring dogs home, and in From Baghdad to America, Kopelman once again leads the pack with his observations on the emotional repercussions of war.

Here, for the first time, Kopelman holds nothing back as he responds to the question, “Why did you save a dog instead of a person?” The answer reveals much about his inner demons—and about the bigger picture of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He talks about what it’s like to return to the States and examines the shocking statistics to come out of Iraq: Depression, suicide, alcohol abuse, and broken relationships are at record highs for the men and women who serve there. Kopelman credits Lava with helping him to endure combat and the pain of war, as well as helping him deal with the surprising difficulties of returning to everyday life. Civilians have a hard time understanding what being a Marine means, and the adjustment to living among them is hard for these soldiers. This book attempts to shed light on that for all readers.

Editorial Reviews

Captain William P. Nash
“A courageous and sometimes brutally honest story.”
Lieutenant General Frank Libutti
“By turns poignant, compelling, humorous, and scathing, From Baghdad to America is must-read for all veterans and anyone who knows or cares about one.”
Publishers Weekly

Former marine officer Kopelman's sequel to From Baghdad, with Love—his bestselling account of a war mongrel named Lava—is a bittersweet and hopeful account of the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder. Kopelman's First Battalion, Third Marines, found Lava among the debris of war-torn Fallujah in November 2004 and adopted the mongrel despite a Department of Defense prohibition against pets. Recognizing Lava's therapeutic value—"the pure joy and escape he provided"—Kopelman not only ignored the regulations but also promised his marines that he would bring Lava home, which, against all odds, he did. Both man and dog had considerable difficulty in adjusting to life after war; Kopelman experienced "frequent anger and frustration"—especially toward civilians who seemed "so self-absorbed"—and Lava was so aggressively overprotective, he required antidepressant medication. Inspired by Lava's example—and worried about the effect of his behavior on his new family—the author finally sought therapy and encourages other troubled vets to get the treatment they need. Kopelman's nonjudgmental approach and his self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek humor make this survivor's account as engaging as it is powerful. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Skyhorse Publishing
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Jay Kopelman, a retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel who served in combat in Iraq, is the author of the New York Times and international bestselling memoir From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava. Since retiring, Jay has become an advocate for veterans and their numerous causes. He currently serves as the executive director of the non-profit agency Freedom Is Not Free. He lives with his family in La Jolla, California.

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From Baghdad to America 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not enjoy this book as much as the first one, but it was wonderful nonetheless. Col. Kopelman describes life coming back from a war zone and the issues both he and Lava faced. He shed light on the negative stigma of mental health in the military and I really appreciated that because I have experienced it. I admire Col. Kopelman for using his experiences in a positive way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very touching story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was not quite what I expected--less about the dog and more about the post-combat state of mind of the author. Valuable insights into post-traumatic stress and the need to share and talk it through. Lavas behavioral issues helped the author realize that he, too needed help adjusting to civilian life. Although as one reviewer pointed out, dogs live more in the present than the past, nothing can completely erase past experiences. Part of the healing process involves sharing with someone who understands (be it canine or human). The story jumps around a bit, but that is part of the experience of PTS--repeatedly returning to the past, detachment from the present. After reading this, I felt I had a better understanding of what our soldiers go through when they come home--as well as an understanding of my own reaction to the traumatic loss of a roommate and friends to terrorism over 20 years ago. BTW, my dog, a rescue from an abusive situation, still exhibits PTS symptoms similar to Lava, though over the years, we have been able to train most of it out of him using positive leadership. He still has his moments, is very suspicious of strangers, but he is the best dog I have ever had.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We found this book to be just as honest and down-to-earth as its author - Jay Kopelman. Insightful, hopeful, yet in-your-face reality about what it's like to come back home after a deployment - our young soldiers, men & women both, are facing a crisis - reading this book, I gained understanding of what made my own father - the parent, the man, that he is (he is a battlefield veteran, having served in Europe during WWII). I can't recommend this book highly enough to all who are US cititzens, related to a soldier, or who just care deeply about their community.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This sequel to Lava's homecoming with his 'man', reiterates what dog lovers already know, our dogs can save our lives. We have all needed the unconditional love of someone to help us through tough times. Jay is fortunate to have this friend in Lava, who was there with him in Iraq, who knows what Hell feels like and can give him the love to help him heal himself. So many sevice people return from Iraq and Afghanistan and seek treatment that is not available, or don't know they need help. A friendly lick can bring them to a better frame of mind to begin the process of healing. I felt wonderful for Jay, but also hopeful for all the people this book will help, and that again is Lava's gift.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admire LTC Kopelman. This book is about the journey of adjusting to civilian life for both he and his dog, Lava. It couldn't have been very easy for a Marine to be as open as he was to the difficulties of returning to civilian life and the problems thereof. I deplore the attitude of so many civilians who do not appreciate all that our military do. I commend you, LTC Kopelman and I thank you for your service.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman and Lava are great examples of what the US military are. The letter inserts from fellow military personell is a great touch that makes the average American read what these men and women went/go through during their time of duty. Lava and Lieutenant Colonel Kopelman went through so much, and their story is so touching as well as frightening. I salute all the service men and women out there who sacrifice their lives for us Americans who hardly know how to show respect anymore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this book, I LOVED From Baghdad With Love and was soo excited when the 'sequel' got released. If your looking for another story or an update about this infamous puppy that was rescued from Iraq you're really not going to find it in this book- the book is more about Jay's life and Marines coming home from Iraq- maybe it should be in a 'self help' section rather than advertised as a book about Lava. It reads with the tone and maturity of something you'd find on an internet forum. His first book told a great story and was an incredible read, I recommended it to everyone, but this one fell way short of that bar. It would be similar to your average person writing a story about their life and feelings- there is nothing there that the average person would want to read about. Again, if you are a Marine returning from Iraq, its probably a great book- but frankly I found it boring and felt like I was waiting for it to start the whole time. it is incredibly disorganized, it doesn't follow his time home in chronological order- its divided into chapters that resemble thought processes, which makes the story really redundent. And Jay needs to get some SERIOUS help with Lava- the dog is out of control and biting at people- and he's self diagnosed him with post traumatic stress syndrome?!?! Are you kidding?? Dogs dont live in the past- they move on. Lava doesn't sit around and think about the horrible life he had in Iraq, he's just living in the moment that he's in. Jay is, by thinking that Lava is upset about his time in Iraq, holding Lava back from being a good dog. Dogs minds are conditioned to respond to stimuli in certain ways and so sure, he is going to respond to loud noises in fear as he did when he was in Iraq, but his mind can be reconditioned! He needs some rules and leadership, and he needs Jay to stop anthropomorphizing- dogs don't get post traumatic stress syndrome- their owners do and project their own feelings onto the dogs and make their dogs that way. I've taken in many shelter dogs and any of them could have had terrible pasts, many of them probably did as they all have some 'issues' BUT I just treated them like a DOG and didn't think about their past and they are all now very happy and issue free. The best part of this book was the letters from readers of his first book sharing their stories. I know Jay hates critics of his books 'he mentioned it like a hundred times in this one!' but this book was not a good book if you're looking to read a good story and particularly if you are interested in the dog. You'll spend the whole time seeing how the dog's issues are excused 'and babied' and therefore only get worse and worse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Uhm. I forgot a Medcat den. That'll be...screw it. ~Wolfpelt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I'm back from SandClan!" He said cheerfully, springing happily back into Northclan territory. And he looked around to see nobody was here. Nobody cared. Tail dragging in the dust and head hanging low, he trudged back to Sandclan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Go ahead. Leave. You just get me in trouble." She says
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walked on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She dragged in a mouse, a vole and a squirrel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okey dokey
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read it yet but it sounds terrible