November 11, 2009

"Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq" by Chris Coppola

(Disclosure: I did receive an Advance Review Copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review. There was no other compensation.)

Ronnica sent out an e-mail several weeks ago offering the book Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq as one that bloggers could get to review. I knew that I wanted this one (thanks, Ronnica!), but I didn’t know how much I’d want it until I started reading.

The book is the first-person account of Major (Dr.) Chris Coppola, an Air Force surgeon who spends two tours in Iraq at the Balad medical facility. While he is there at a military medical facility, Dr. Coppola is himself a pediatric specialist. Of course, most of what he does in Iraq is for troops, who are adults. However, he is the one called when children come into the facility, either from being injured in combat or attacks or other situations.

The book’s cover has an intriguing picture.


The picture is explained about halfway through the book. It’s a woman who brings her child to the camp for care, knowing that there is an American doctor there who is reputed to be great with children. She doesn’t know English, but all she has to explain what she needs is a little piece of paper with the name “Coppola” written on it, which she gives to the guards.

This book is a wonderful read. If you want to get the perspective of a person who’s actually been in Iraq, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The book is not, though, an easy read. More than a few times, I felt like my heart was being clamped in a vice. Maj. Coppola is writing about the experiences of people in a war. He’s writing about the men and women in a hospital, the injured who come in for care, the parents of the children for whom he cares, his own family, and the locals with whom he interacts. This is a powerful set of stories.

If you want a book that comes out as a gung-ho, “stay the course,” pro-war perspective, this isn’t it. If you want a book that comes out and says, “I’ve been there, this is all wrong, let’s leave,” this isn’t that one, either. Rather, this book deals pretty fairly with the questions of whether we should be in Iraq at all, whether the Iraqis in general are better off (and in what ways!), and what it all costs.

Since I’m already over 400 words, I will stop this here for the moment, but I’m coming back to this book in future posts on my own blog. It’s a wonderful and powerful story, and the perspectives that Dr. Coppola shares should be part of the discussion about the present and future of Iraq and US policy there.

A well-deserved four stars.


  1. This is an amazing book! I will be finishing it tonight in preparation for a Blog Tour tomorrow. I will be posting a review, interview with Dr. Coppola, and a giveaway. A very powerful story. Thanks for your review!

  2. Dear Wickle, Thank you so much for reviewing my book! Not only are your compliments very kind, but it is a comfort to me to see that you were able to see with such clarity the story I wanted to tell. Thank you for sharing it with your readers. If they want to learn more about the book, there is multimedia at . Take care! Chris Coppola

  3. Dr. Coppola, I'm honored!

    Thanks for your book ... which I have now lent to my mother, by the way. She's considering suggesting it to her book club.

  4. this is really nice to read..informative post is very good to read..thanks a lot! Kims cuddles


Thanks for joining our discussion of this book!

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