Preemptive Love

Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time

Preemptive Love

A personal account of the Courtney family and the Preemptive Love Coalition, as they help children obtain lifesaving surgeries in Iraq using one simple but powerful tool: a love that strikes first.

In the middle of the Iraq War, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney found themselves with their two children caught up in the turmoil, just hoping to make a difference. After an encounter with a father whose little girl was dying from a heart defect, they began to investigate options for helping and learned that untold thousands of children across Iraq were in similar need, waiting in line for heart surgery in a country without a qualified heart surgeon.

With the help of their closest friends, they dived in to save the lives of as many as they could, but sending children abroad proved to be expensive and cumbersome, and it failed to make an impact on the systemic needs of Iraqi hospitals—the place where these children really should be saved. Despite fatwas, death threats, bombings, imprisonments, and intense living conditions, Jeremy and his team persevered to overcome years of hostilities and distrust in an effort to eradicate the backlog of thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children waiting in line for much-needed heart surgery.

“This true story of people coming together to live the doctrine of 'love first, ask questions later' by building bridges and saving lives is powerfully inspiring, touching, and, unfortunately, urgently relevant” (Publishers Weekly). “Courtney’s moving story gives us some of the best news to come out of Iraq in ages” (Los Angeles Times).

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Preemptive Love includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Jeremy Courtney. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Preemptive Love is the true story of Jeremy and Jessica Courtney and their quest to put love before all else—no matter the risk. Jeremy Courtney shares with readers the journey he took with his wife, their friends, and sometimes even their enemies in order to start the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC). The mission of PLC is simple: save as many Iraqi children as possible who are in need of heart surgery—a prevalent problem in Iraq post-Saddam Hussein’s chemical warfare, more than a decade of sanctions, and outstanding environmental questions that many have linked to American and British weapons during the 2003 Iraq War; especially since there are few surgeons in the country willing and able to perform surgery on these gravely ill children. Faced with nearly every problem imaginable, Jeremy and his community begin saving lives and seeing glimmers of peace amidst the violence and unrest of present-day Iraq.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

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Articles About This Book

Preemptivelove jeremy 500

Posted on Tips on Life & Love

Posted by Jeremy Courtney

Since my wife and I moved to Iraq with our (now) two kids in the middle of the Iraq War (detailed in my new book, Preemptive Love), a combination of outside pressures and internal controls have helped our family reclaim some of the essence of the...

About the Author

Jeremy Courtney
Photograph by Abigail Criner

Jeremy Courtney

Jeremy Courtney is cofounder and executive director of the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC), an international development organization based in Iraq that provides lifesaving heart surgeries to Iraqi children and trains local doctors and nurses. Jeremy resides in Iraq with his wife, two children, and an indispensable team of dear friends.