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31 October 2009

Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq by Dr. Chris Coppola - Book Tour and Review

Title: Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq
Author: Lt. Col. Dr. Chris Coppola
Publisher: NTI Upstream
Publication Date: February 1, 2010
Hardcover: 262 pages
ISBN: 978-0984053117
Genre: Memoir



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?”

My review:

Reading this novel I was touched by the humanity of Dr. Chris Coppola and those around him, while facing atrocities most of us thankfully will never see first hand. Dr. Coppola writes from his heart, to tell the story of the brave men, women, and children he encountered while serving his two tours in Iraq at Balad Air Base military Hospital. Dr. Coppola writes of his experiences in a non-partisan way, which makes this memoir all the more moving, as we see through the eyes of one in a war, yet struggling to "do no harm". Throughout the memoir, Dr. Coppola periodically flashes back to his years as a child in Connecticut, his years as a struggling medical resident, and most often, as a husband and father. He speaks lovingly of his wife and three sons and writes of the difficulties he encountered coming home from his first tour readjusting to life as it was before. I would highly recommend this novel, yet must caution there are some graphic medical descriptions, however, the overall theme of this book is one of compassion and love.

About the Author: Dr. Chris Coppola was sworn in as a second lieutenant in 1990 as part of the Air Force’s Health Professions Scholarship Program, agreeing to perform six years of active duty service in exchange for a free education at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. As part of the program, Dr. Coppola would spend one month of each year serving as a clerk in a military facility. Later, while completing his surgery residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, he conducted research on birth defects and went on medical missions in Haiti and the Amazon.

As the Judson Randolph fellow in pediatric surgery at Children’s National Medical Center, Dr. Coppola operated on children with birth defects and traumatic injuries. His assignment at Wilford Hall Medical Center found him as the sole military pediatric surgeon for the southwest United States, receiving patients from as far as Japan. He also conducted missions as the surgeon for the only global Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) team in the world, rescuing babies from Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Following his assignment at Wilford Hall, Dr. Coppola was deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, assigned to the 332nd Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq, where many of his patients were seriously wounded children.

He is currently a pediatric surgeon in Danville, PA, working for Geisinger Health System in Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. His articles have been published in many prestigious medical journals including the Archives of Adolescent and Pediatric Medicine and Journal of Pediatric Surgery.

Please Note: The book will have an internet-only release on November 1, 2009 and then a general trade release on February 1, 2010. We have joined with multiple non-profit organizations to donate portions of the book’s sale to support their causes. For more information, please visit the novel's website.

I received a free copy of Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq by Dr. Chris Coppola from NTI Upstream as part of the tour. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom said...

This sounds like an amazing book - and situations that most of us cannot even fathom.

Thank you for this post and review - I am definitely interested in reading this!

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Erin.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

Sounds like a wonderful read!

Leslie M. said...

Being a Pediatric/Neonatal Nurse.. this book sings to my heart! Dr. Coppola has my admiration!!! God Bless him!
What a GREAT REVIEW Knitty! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!!!

Thanks so much!


T. Anne said...

Wow, I have 3 teen boys too. Scary isn't it? Plus I read Outlander by Diana 'Gobble-up-all-my-time' as I affectionetly (sp) call her. I'm on Dragonfly in Amber. I also read tons of Phillips Gregory this summer. *off to explore your blog*

Chris said...

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you so much for this insightful, perceptive review of my book. It is clear that you have seen me through the pages! I appreciate your kind words, and thank you for sharing them with your readers.

Take care!


LiveLaughLoveCj said...

This is a MUST Read for me Jennifer, it's early media info had me on the hook about it, your review has me hook, line and sinker.

There is also so much more to Dr. Coppola and his efforts stateside, the assistance, heart and "do no harm" way of life that has become his calling.

Excellent review Jennifer. Again, a book for my TBR Wishlist!

Teddyree said...

What a wonderful review, I can't wait to read this one. As a nurse I love this type of memoir, definitely one for my wishlist!

Catherine @ The Blonde Diaries said...

Wow! That had to be one emotional read to get through but I bet it was totally worth it. I will be looking for this book when it hits the bookshelves early next Spring.