Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq by Dr. Chris Coppola

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
W-O-W...I don't know that I can adequately convey my feelings about this book in this post. Everyone has an opinion about the "War in Iraq" or whatever terminology you chose to use in regards to this conflict. I had one prior to reading this book and I DEFINITELY have one now!

I was contacted awhile back by the publisher for Dr. Coppola to review this book. My background in pediatric cardiology nursing drove me to want to read this book. I finished it in two sittings, which is rare for me to do! There are so many things I learned from this book and I'll take a few minutes to share with you my thoughts and reactions.

First, a brief synopsis provided by the publisher:
Synopsis: Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq is the fierce, true-life account of Dr. Chris Coppola’s two deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an Air Force pediatric surgeon. Twice stationed at Balad Air Base, fifty miles north of Baghdad, in what was first a rude M*A*S*H*-style tent hospital and later became one of the largest U.S. military installations on foreign soil, Dr. Coppola works feverishly to save the lives of soldiers and civilians as word spreads among Iraqi families that, no matter what the infirmity, he can save their children.
From his first night on call, Dr. Coppola is confronted with injuries more severe than any he has ever encountered—I.E.D. and suicide bomb casualties, which shake his religious conviction and trigger persistent bouts of insomnia. In his first weeks, he witnesses Iraq’s health care system tumble into crisis as thousands of Iraqi doctors flee the country, Al Qaeda ramps up efforts to target civilian sites such as schools, funeral processions, women and children; and families are left without basic essentials like electricity and drinking water. Dr. Coppola, exhausted after marathon nights in the OR, homesick for his wife and three boys in San Antonio, Texas, finally asks himself, “How can I go on?”

Dr. Coppola faces some very traumatic cases in Iraq while on his two tours of duty. This book mainly focuses on his first tour where you learn of young children who are injured in the war. Innocent, precious lives...some of them with fixable injuries, others with more difficult situations. Dr. Coppola talks of some of his comrades that come in to the facility where he is stationed with missing arms, legs, and shrapnel everywhere. The reader has a glimpse of the good and the bad of these cases. Some were very touching and will stay with me for a VERY long time.

A non-medically trained person may ask if this is the right book for them. While I think it requires a strong stomach to read through some of the heartache and trauma, Dr. Coppola never leaves the reader guessing what each diagnosis means. He is aware of his readers possible lack of knowledge when talking about what the steps are to remove shrapnel from the spinal column and uses layman's terms, along with the medical term. I found this book to be very educational in that respect.

Speaking of respect...my respect for the soldier fighting for my freedom escalated to the nth degree. I knew it was bad to be there, but I didn't realize (and will never fully realize unless I go) just how bad it really is. The conditions in which our soldiers are living and working there are deplorable! I cannot imagine how Dr. Coppola and his team must have felt when all the dust kicking up everywhere prevents a 100% chance of a sterile field in the operating room!! Things we take so easily for granted here are necessities over there. Our very soldiers lives are at stake!

I know now, that after reading this fantastic book, that Dr. Coppola is a doctor whom I would love to work beside one day. His compassion on these children that he treated while there just proves that he is a real human being! Dr. Coppola had to fight to care for the "non-warfare related" injured children while there. Many families heard of Dr. Coppola and his skills while there and would bring their children for multiple issues, one of which was gender determination.

The cover of this book is most poignant. A hand holding a piece of paper that says "Coppola". It's beautiful! The story is in the middle of the book and it brought tears to my eyes.

I laughed, cried, and even got angry while reading this book. This one is staying on my shelves and I'll purchase the full copy as well. I'm not a huge memoir fan but I'm so thankful to the publicist and Dr. Coppola for asking me to review this book. My life feels different now and I hope to impart to my students the importance of serving your country, whether in the military or simply through their choice of profession.

This book is currently available to ship today - only at http://www.coppolathebook.com. 10% of all purchases made during the month of November on www.coppolathebook.com will go to support the not-for-profit organization War Child. Additionally, preorders are currently available on amazon.com, but will not ship until February, 2010.

Don't let this one slip away. This is a life-changing book that I HIGHLY recommend to all!

View all my reviews >>

Other Bloggers touring this book:

November 11, 2009 (online)

November 12, 2009 (online)
Interview & Book Giveaway

November 23 & 24, 2009 (online)
Guest Post & Video Interview

November 24, 2009 (online)
Guest Post & Interview

December 3, 2009 (online)
Guest Post

December 17, 2009 (online)
Guest Post & Interview

I received this review copy from the publisher. I am an Amazon Affiliate.

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1 comment:

  1. Jennifer (Crazy-for-Books.com)November 24, 2009 at 8:36 AM

    I completely agree with you! This book was phenomenal and I can't recommend it enough! Amazing story! Thank you for your review!