Helmet for my pillow review
Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert LeckieNow the inspiration behind the HBO series THE PACIFIC
Here is one of the most riveting first-person accounts to ever come out of the Second World War. Robert Leckie was 21 when he enlisted in the US Marine Corps in January 1942. In Helmet for My Pillow we follow his journey, from boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina, all the way to the raging battles in the Pacific, where some of the wars fiercest fighting took place. Recounting his service with the 1st Marine Division and the brutal action on Guadalcanal, New Britain and Peleliu, Leckie spares no detail of the horrors and sacrifice of war, painting an unsentimental portrait of how real warriors are made, fight, and all too often die in the defence of their country.
From the live-for-today rowdiness of Marines on leave to the terrors of jungle warfare against an enemy determined to fight to the last man, Leckie describes what its really like when victory can only be measured inch by bloody inch. Unparalleled in its immediacy and accuracy, Helmet for My Pillow is a gripping account from an ordinary soldier fighting in extraordinary conditions. This is a book that brings you as close to the mud, the blood, and the experience of war as it is safe to come.
Helmet for My Pillow is a grand and epic prose poem. Robert Leckies theme is the purely human experience of war in the Pacific, written in the graceful imagery of a human being who - somehow - survived - Tom Hanks
Jocko Podcast 71 with Echo Charles: Heroes are Not Perfect. Never Judge. "A Helmet for my Pillow"
Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific
Leckie fought at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and finally at Peleliu where he was wounded and taken back to the states for treatment. It is incredibly descriptive, going into some of the most specific details that can sometimes seem unimportant to the situation at hand. This does lead to some frustration especially when there is an engagement with the enemy. These are supposed to be fast paced and exciting sections for the reader, Leckie certainly captures this, but the book does at times divert away from this which can cause the reader to lose track of the larger picture. Sadly, it can cause difficulties in following the storyline while one is frequently backtracking, reading over previous paragraphs to understand where you are in the narrative. Leckie was a sports writer before the war and during the war he was even able to gather enough books to make himself a small library, loaning out books to other marines, so he must have been interested and well educated in literature.
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This account is intimate and detailed. Only the names of officers and friends are omitted, replacing with nicknames like "Lieutenant Ivy-League". Training begins at Parris Island: drill sergeants, the rifle range and discipline and indoctrination. Next, the recruits were sent to New River for more training and finally the order to ship out via San Francisco to the Pacific. The landing is anti-climatic, as there are no Japanese defending the landing beach and the only drama is becoming lost and discovering a cache of Japanese beer. Told to dig in along the Ilu River, Leckie and his comrades experience their first combat during the Battle of the Teneru Ilu River, Aligator Creek when Japanese advance from the eastern side of the river against their prepared machine gun and barbed wire positions and were defeated. After the battle, Leckie describes one marine, "souvenirs" who sets about removing the gold teeth from fallen Japanese soldiers.
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I very much enjoy reading war memoirs. They have seen beyond , somehow. Their experiences have stamped on them an indelible impression that neither time nor distance can erase.
Thank you! A Marine who fought at Guadalcanal and Peleliu writes of his experiences at an elementary level- with perhaps a single connective, reflective vein. This is war without suspense or unmerciful violence, sex is minimal, drink random and a matter of opportunity, foul language almost unnoticeable; war without loved ones at home, exchanges of sentimental memories, philosophizing. This is the machinery by which the Marines grind down initiative and individuality. This is how the men buddy up and take on nicknames, respond to injury and the death of comrades, pilfer grub, hate the incessant rain, officers, insects.