Saturday, September 13, 2014

Book Blog-Camille Mumm

From Baghdad, With Love      Camille Mumm Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman with Melinda Roth Composition 117
The Lyons Press, 2006
97 pages

Am I a gutless wimp?
Have I just embarrassed the entire US Marine Corps?
Do I care? (p. 97)

The first lines of this story grabs my attention right away and throws me into the middle of a military patrol where the Lava Dogs, the author’s unit, is questioning what kind of weapon is making the strange clicking noise. As they consider what horrible death they might face in the next seconds they find a puppy wandering around the war desolated city of Fallujah. Soon he gets the name Lava and is adopted by the unit, mainly Colonel Kopelman.
The problem with Lava is that not only are the Marines not allowed to keep pets, but Lava is a drain on the men’s resources. He eats their food, destroys equipment, and needs to be vaccinated. Lava is not the only focus of this book, which is set up in a diary like fashion,  it also includes a lot of day-to-day activities of the the Lava Dogs and provides more background about the Iraq War. It always comes back to Lava though, and as the book progresses it is easy to get a sense for how Kopelman’s affection grows for him. Another interesting aspect that Kopelman points out it how the Marines change their demeanor when they are around Lava. The battle-hardened military men turn into baby-talking pushovers that let Lava destroy anything he wants for the simple fact that he is cute.  
As the story progresses the problem of keeping Lava around gets more and more serious. Kopelman repeatedly recites General Order 1-A, the banning of pets or mascots for service members. Kopelman starts searching for ways to get Lava to the United States before one of the higher officers reprimands him and kills Lava. He takes to the internet to find that many service members have attempted to do this same thing. He starts to get his hopes up when he is contacted by Jon Van Zante, who offers to help get Lava out of Iraq. They next chapters are more about Kopelman’s time in Iraq, Lava’s antics, and the increasingly demanding process of getting Lava cleared to get out.
Eventually Lava is taken into the city of Baghdad by the journalist Anne Garrels. It is a challenge even to get in and out of Baghdad at this point, let alone with a whiny puppy. When she leaves with Lava Kopelman gets very anxious and is constantly checking his email to here back. When he hears about a series of attacks and casualties in the city he is more nervous. That’s where the quotation comes from; it’s Kopelman’s response to finally hearing back from Anne.
This story is incredibly vivid, everything comes to life and puts the reader right in the action. The emotions Kopelman tells about are raw and real. Up to this point in the book, there has yet to be a spot that lacks suspense. When I picked this book I kind of saw it coming, there are never books or movies, fictional or non about a service member and their dog that doesn’t pull at the audience's heartstrings. The quotation I used on the last page for this blog and ended it almost perfectly. It shows Kopelman’s loyalty as a person, as well as his affection for Lava.
This book could appeal to almost any  audience, there are a few parts  that are a bit gruesome, the battle scene descriptions, so a really young crowd might not be the best. The language is easy to understand and not filled with a lot of technical military words like some other military nonfiction can get. I can’t wait to see where this book is going to go and hope in the end that Colonel Kopelman gets to come home to Lava safely.


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  2. Hayley Boes
    Composition 105

    The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Facts
    Wes Moore
    Spiegel & Grau, 2010
    228 pages

    “Perhaps the most surprising thing I discovered was that through the stories we volleyed back and forth in letters and over the metal divider of the prison’s visiting room, Wes and I had indeed, as Wideman wrote, ‘collapsed the distance’ between our worlds.” (page xiii)

    The Other Wes Moore is the story of an author who discovers through a newspaper article that he grew up not far from another man with the same name. This newspaper article described an incident in which this other man had robbed a jewelry store and was therefore sent to prison. This story triggered the author’s curiosity and he decided to contact this prison inmate through letters. Not expecting a response, the author received a very well-written, kind-hearted letter from the man not soon after the author had sent his. The two men exchanged letters for a while before agreeing to talk in person at the prison. The Other Wes Moore details the stories exchanged between these two men and how their lives ended up so differently: one as a successful author; the other as a prison inmate.

    The first half of The Other Wes Moore details the two mens’ childhoods, which were similar in many ways. The two men grew up without fathers for a majority of their childhood. Both of their mothers struggled financially and emotionally to raise a family on their own. The two men had no trouble making childhood friends, but the friends they associated themselves with often got them into trouble. The prisoner became involved with violence and drugs. The author became involved with graffiti and attracting the neighborhood girls. Both men got themselves into trouble with the cops throughout their childhoods.

    This book’s major focus settles upon the idea of how children’s family life and surroundings impact them for the future. The author has done research and conducted interviews to discover how taking one wrong turn, or one right one, can change a child’s life forever. Many children don’t realize how important every decision they make can affect them in the future. The author of this story has decided to change that and provide the children of today with knowledge of the importance of decision-making in their lives. The author also hopes to inform parents of how to help their children thrive and stay out of trouble, which his mother failed to accomplished. I don’t necessarily connect with this story because I was raised in a small town with a nourishing family who taught me righteous morals. I stayed out of trouble and worked hard to please those who cared for me. In fact, I still do today. I think that’s why this story interests me so much. It’s a different story, a different point of view, a different lifestyle that I could never even imagine taking part of. It’s very interesting to learn approximately where these two men’s lives took different paths and how those changes impacted the rest of their lives.

    I would recommend this book to anyone ages fifteen and above because it has taught me about the importance of decision-making in my life. It has also inspired me to raise my children well when the time comes and teach them righteous morals and important decision-making, much like my parents taught me and Wes Moore’s parents did not. Although I’ve only read the first half of this story which included details of the men’s childhood memories, I can’t wait to keep reading and learn more about the men’s lives as they grew older.

    1. I like a lot of aspects of this post, especially how you related it to you even though the story really doesn't and the quote you used to start. The only thing that I found that could have been added was your reactions to what happened in the story as it went instead of just at the end. Also the book needs to be put in italics when it is in the blog.

  3. This blog was pretty good and as far as I can see it meets the blogging standards. I really liked the quote at the beginning because it made me feel like I was put into those shoes.

  4. Great summary and examples with explanations and analysis. Could use some more explanation on the theme. Leading quotation was very intriguing.