Here is one of the most riveting first-person accounts ever to come out of World War II.
Robert Leckie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In Helmet for My Pillow, we follow his odyssey, from basic training on Parris Island, South Carolina, all the way to the raging battles in the Pacific, where some of the war's 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 sacrifices of war, painting an unvarnished portrait of how real warriors are made, fight, and often die in the defense 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 war is really like when victory can only be measured inch by bloody inch. Woven throughout are Leckie’s hard-won, eloquent, and thoroughly unsentimental meditations on the meaning of war and why we fight.
Unparalleled in its immediacy and accuracy, Helmet for My Pillow will leave no one untouched. 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.
Now producers Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman, the men behind Band of Brothers, have adapted material from Helmet for My Pillow for HBO's epic miniseries The Pacific, which will thrill and edify a whole new generation.
©2008 Robert Leckie (P)2010 Tantor
“Helmet for My Pillow is a grand and epic prose poem. Robert Leckie’s 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)
Leckie and Sledge have written the two classic tales of the 1st Marine Division in WWII. Helmet for my Pillow and With The Old Breed are both highly recommended.
That said, Leckie is a bit of an oddity in enlisted-man war memoir authors, quoting Homer, Herodotus, and St. Thomas Aquinas, and eschewing the profanities that he heard and likely used every day in uniform. Given when he wrote this book, that's not all that surprising. Leckie also uses pseudonyms for his fellow Marines, which is annoying, but it is what it is.
This book is longer on personal narrative and less about the graphic and gory details of what combat in the Pacific was like. For that, see Sledge.
Other reviewers are correct about the narrator: he takes a bit to get used to, and I can see where he'd turn some people off. I went with it, and soon it didn't bother me.
If you're into reading about the Pacific War from a worms-eye view, this book is essential reading.
I was in the U. S Army. I am a Viet Nam vet. I can assure you, with certainty, that Robert Leckie will take you places and show you things which you will see and feel as if watching a movie.
I would have been pleased to be in Robert Leckie's squad. His sense of humour did not overshadow or deter from his sense of humanity. From home to boot camp to the ship to the LST to landing on the beach to the combat to the R&R and back to war again, is wonderfully related to one and all in this book. Be sure to add this to your library.
I loved the series "The Pacific", but, I could never figure out why after 4 years in the Marine Corp. that Leckie still remained a private! Well, this book will certainly let you know why. Told with emotion, spirit and humor. Makes you love the guy and some of his antics and attitude!
I am an avid student of World War II and have read literally hundreds of works involving "the war". With the coming to the HBO production "The Pacific" I read this work and was very disappointed.
Leckie's writing style is superb. He spins a great yarn but he deals far too much with Marine liberty and not enough with combat experience. The book reminds me of "From Here to Eternity" in the thrust of the story. More content was spent on the "Great Debauch" in Australia than was spent of Guadacanal which preceded it. This book is not nearly as well done as Tregasis' "Guadacanal Diary" or "With the Old Breed" which was also used by HBO. If this is the text of Hanks' series it is not up to the "Band of Brothers" book he used earlier.
The narrator was only fair in his attempts to put life into the story but overall, I was disappointed in the content of an otherwise well written book.
It is important to remember that this book was first published in 1957 and is unique in it's perspective, from an enlisted man, who had a sports writers attitude. Although the narrator takes a little getting used to, listening to the author's story, a vivid window into that time is opened. The book reflects the era it was written in, only a decade after the end of the war, and therefore is in some respect a fresher and truer memoir than one's written many decades later.
The story is very good, as it is real and a heck of a human survival and triumph. But the reading voice is pretty bad, almost like listening to a bad baseball game callout
Leckie joined the US Marine Corps just after the Japanese attach on Pear Harbor. This is his story of basic training, deploymnet to Guadalcanal with the First Marine Division, and the experiences he had along the way. If you are looking for a war narrative, per se, you will not find it here. However, Leckie has provided a particular point of view useful to anyone interested in the era and theater. Well written and good narration by John Nelson.
Interesting with a unique, captivating style. I felt a strong image of the man's journey in the Pacific theater during WWII.
Agree with other reviews. Not only did the narrator read in a monotone, but he regularly mispronounced common words.
I got the impression that the HBO series on the Pacific is based on more than one book. If so, I would appreciate learning the names of the others.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.