Monday, January 18, 2010

From Baghdad, With Love

Kopelman, Jay, & Roth, Melinda (2006). From Baghdad with love. Connecticut: The Lyons Press.

From Baghdad, with Love is an emotional account of Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman’s deployment to Fallujah, Iraq in November of 2004. While the memoir adeptly places the reader in the context of the war, its main focus is on Lava, a puppy found in an abandoned building by members of the First Battalion, Third Marines, known as the Lava Dogs. Despite the military’s General Order 1-A forbidding pets, Kopelman and the Lava Dogs become attached to Lava. Surrounded by insurgents, car bombs, rotting bodies and an uncertain future, Lava is a constant reminder to these men of what it means to be human. Eventually, Kopelman looks into saving Lava and transporting him to the States. Kopelman writes, “On some level, saving the life of my dog saved me—and all those he touched—psychologically and emotionally, and continues to do so.”

I am considering using this book in my classroom to give students a glimpse of the hell of war and what our troops experience. One of the strengths of Kopelman’s account is his emphasis on the emotional toil of war. In addition, because Jay Kopelman resides in San Diego, I am hoping he may be a resource for the project I am drafting.

Relevant Quote
Still, the best part is how these Marines, these elite, 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 buggess 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, yesiree.’ “

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