Shaggy dog story

<strong>From Baghdad, with Love</strong>

Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman, with Melinda Roth <em>Ba

If Dan Brown and Lassie collaborated to write a book on war, this is what I’d expect. From Baghdad, with Love tells the story of marine Jay Kopelman and his quest to rescue a puppy named Lava from war-torn Iraq.

It is clear that the marine has lost sight of the fact that Lava is a dog when, during the operation to rescue the animal, he confesses:

“I could play handball with an undetonated grenade and feel calmer.” Lava’s survival takes precedence over all human safety as troops venture into the unprotected Red Zone in pursuit of a rabies jab. As long as the “ball of fluff” is wagging its tail, our hero is delighted with life.

Kopelman uses the tale of the scared and confused puppy as an analogy for his own situation, but it is not enough to make a convincing book. Part toys-for-boys war adventure, part puppy-tale for girls, From Baghdad, with Love certainly has marketing possibilities, though: movie, computer game and cuddly toy.

In a concluding line, Kopelman both asks, and vaguely answers, the question that was on my lips all the way through: “Why wasn’t my time spent helping people instead of a puppy? I don’t know and I don’t care, but at least I saved something.” Whatever you say, Jay.

This article first appeared in the 16 April 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Iran