Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

by Robert Leckie

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Helmet for My Pillow 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 246 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Veterans of combat are affected in different ways by their experiences in war: Some are traumatized for life by the ordeal, and try their best to forget all of it; others re-up/volunteer to go back to the fighting if they are physically able. Bob Leckie became an avid military historian, examining wars from Desert Storm back to the French & Indian War. A burgeoning journalist before enlisting, Leckie knew how to tell a story. I found him just about as objective as a writer can be, considering that he himself is a part of the story. Many will probably watch HBO's miniseries, the Pacific (partly based on this book), without reading Leckie's memoir. They owe it to themselves to read the source material. Many things are (out of necessity) condensed, changed or omitted when adapting to the screen. For instance, during the R&R in Australia, Leckie caroused with a few different women, who the film makers had to amalgamate for the camera. The Pacific War was a battle not just against the Japanese, but against jungle rot; tropical diseases; horrendous weather; dehydration; and insanity. The biggest differences between Vietnam and the island-hopping campaign during WWII were 1) Commanders in the field, right up to MacArthur, were allowed to pursue victory and 2) The fighting men who returned home after WWII were appreciated by a grateful nation. The horrors endured by both generations was comparable. Nonetheless, there are also lighthearted moments, humorous moments, tedious segments...all in all, representative of the wartime military experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read. I gave it 4 stars because Leckie is a writer by trade, so the book feels a little more polished than if it were just written by an ordinary soldier with a story to tell. Still a very good read you will not regret.
civiwarlibrarian More than 1 year ago
World War Two Classic: A Helmet For My Pillow, A Helmet For My Heart Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific, Robert Leckie, Bantam Books, 305 pp., 1957, 2010 edition, 16.00. First published in 1957, Helmet for My Pillow is the World War Two memoir of Robert Leckie, United States Marine Corps veteran and military historian. Born in 1920, Philadelphia Pennsylvania native Leckie served in the Pacific Theatre with the First Marine Division as a machine gunner and intelligence scout during the Battle of Guadalcanal and later campaigns. One of eight children born into an Irish Catholic family began his writing career, at age 16 as a sports writer for The Bergen Evening Record in New Jersey. In 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Leckie enlisted in the Marines. He was assigned to H Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. He deployed to Guadalcanal, Australia, New Guinea, and Cape Gloucester and participated in every major First Marine Division campaign except Okinawa. Drill instructors, disappearing individuality, drunkeness, and new comrades enter Leckie's life during boot camp in MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina, and then during his first post at New River, North Carolina. Each take their toll on Leckie: heavy combat at Guadalcanal, jungle patrols in New Guinea, bread-and-water in the brig twice, more months of combat at Point Glouster, assignment to the psychiatric ward for a month, more combat at Bloody Nose Ridge, and blast concussion. His comrades are Artist, Chuckler, Commando, Hoosier, Ivy League, Runner, Souvenir, and Straight Talk. Officers steal his cigars and his foot locker. Like William Manchester's Goodbye, Darkness Leckie's memoir offers brilliant descriptions, an amazing use of language, and masterful storytelling. The 2010 HBO mini-series The Pacific was adapted in large part from Helmet for My Pillow, and Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Leckie's memoir is literature. Leckie's work is fascinating, compelling, highly descriptive writing by one who lived through what hell mankind could make. The conclusion of the story is humane and heartfelt with reflections of the use of the atomic bomb, the loss of comrades, and the nature of sacrifice. A few weeks ago David McCullough prescribed a remedy for the dearth of knowledge about American history among citizens, young and old. He wishes teachers would create history lab exercises for students much like National History Day competitions. CWL would teach history through biography and on the list would be Robert Leckie's Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For those of you how don't believe me, one of Robert Leckie's sons teaches Social Studies goes to my middle school in Chester, New Jersey. I have read this book, and it is one of the greatest pieces of literature I have ever read, and even though I am only in 7th grade, I have read my fair share of books. I highly recomend this book to anyone.
atomsplitter More than 1 year ago
I was inspired to read this book after watching the Pacific miniseries. The thing that is lacking in Leckie's book is the details of the battles. This was not a problem with E.B. Sledge's book, With The Old Breed, which I found to be superior to Leckie's book. With Sledge's book you could feel the horrors of being on the front lines in battle whereas this book seems to skim the surface. I do recommend this book but not as wholeheartedly as two other books that I have read dealing with the Pacific war, With The Old Breed and Unbroken.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Helmet for my Pillow" by Robert Leckie combines all of Leckie's past war expriences from World War II. The book had all of Lecki's squad members and the tales in which they when island hopping after the Japanes attacked Pearl Harbor. The squad started on Parris Island and went to Okinawa and continues to make their wa to the west in the Pacific Islands.Leckie is one of the only few remaining members of his squad left after the war ended. The book was overall a well tuned experience and would be reccommended to most anyone. It seemed like the book was a cliche war story about World War II and did not have much of a difference than any other person's experience in fighting the war. Most people go through the same feelings, like the war would never end and the fear of dying in battle. Although there was aa few negetive feelings towards the book, the positives, such as the actions parts while the squad was island hopping, or maybe a close friend being injured which takes the reader on an emotional spiral of; somber, adrenaline, fear, and many other emotions. Overall, the positives out weigh the negetinves. One of the major negetive influences of the book is the long chapters when the squad is sitting around at night talking about their life back home and their feeling towards the war. Some of the themes that play a major role in the book which effects the characters the most would be: strength through hardship, personal desire to find a way through the war, and the unity of a single squad to help each other out in times of pain and suffering. The protagonist continually had to stay strong through the battles the sqaud encountered. Each individual of the book had to strive to find some way to keep fighting. All the members of the team help one another to find peace and content when facing an emotional challenge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a terrific read for anyone interested in what our servicemen go through to give us our freedom. A great read,if you have any interest in history and WWII.
robertofantioch More than 1 year ago
You can definitely tell that Leckie was a writer.  Well put together and engaging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, but leaves out too much of the graphic details. "With the Old Breed" is a better read for anyone who enjoys World War II literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the writing so awkward that I had difficulty becoming absorbed in the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this after I read "With the Old Breed" as I understand that these two books were the basis for the movie "The Pacific". This book wasn't really what I expected. While the other books in this genre dealt mainly with the battles this book tended to focus more on the general life of this marine (and more specifically how much trouble he got into). It was interesting but in many ways I felt like I was reading a sports columnist. (Which I believe Leckie actually was for a time...)
Anonymous 9 days ago
A little too wordy but not bad
Anonymous 6 months ago
interesting so differ from Vietnam. everyone suffered just in different ways
Anonymous 8 months ago
coffyman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a former Vietnam era Marine, I've always been fascinated by the history of WWI. This is an amazing, well written book that keeps the reader engrossed through out the entire length. Loved it!
Prograde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like some others wanted to watch the HBO miniseries THE PACIFIC that was based on books HELMET FOR MY PILLOW by Robert Leckie AND WITH THIS OLD BREED by E.B.Sledge after I had read the books first.To be honest I kept asking myself "where was Leckie's editor?". He would use a certain phase or word every few pages and you knew you would see it again (and again) shortly. It was a very sing song type of writing that I found distracting to the story being told.I'm not discounting this man's courage in the slightest just offering an opinion.I was glad I read it before seeing the series.
creighley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Robert Leckie's experience as an enlisted marine in the Pacific during World War II. Although the hell of war is aptly portrayed, a better "feel" for a foot soldier's war can be had by reading, With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge. As evidenced in the broad-spectrum of narratives of war, my question at the end of these is, How do these men survive being led by such baseless, conceited and inept officers? My only criticism of the book is that a lot of it tells the tale of the moments away from the madness of battle and gives lets one "rest" rather than be bombarded with the cruelty of battle.
linedog1848 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From time to time someone writes a war memoir that is self-glorifying drivel. Those memoirs are worthless. Of the others, there really is no way to say that one is any more "true" than another as an account of military history; after all, they are not histories, they are personal narratives, and 100 people in the same place at the same time will have 100 unique experiences and interpretations of it. With that said, I found that Leckie's memoir rang truer to my own experience of service and combat than any other war memoir I have read. Leckie's insights reflected a co-incidence of interests between me and him, and a commonality of how we interpreted much of what we have seen. The "polite deprecation" of civilians toward soldiers; the significance and pervasiveness of caste within the military structure; the counterintuitive value of "brig-rats" railing against that caste system; and simultaneously the disgust with those in the higher castes who, upon hearing the "shibboleth" of intellect, show pity toward you for the misfortune of serving in the infantry. That life is full of contradictions--anger against the separation of classes, but pride in knowing oneself fit to be peers with the brass, yet choosing to be a private in the line. Having more in common with officers than with your fellow enlisted-men, yet looking down upon those officers for the weakness of moral character evidenced by their needing the privileges of rank. And these ironies: excuses. All contradictory. All self-protective. All self-serving. All rationalizations. Most self-deceiving. But without them, how could one function in that world?
mjmorrison1971 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very real account of the Pacific War from a front line solder. It is honest about the attitudes and behaviour these men but also places this into the context of the deprived conditions they were fighting in. It is interesting to compare Leckie's account of the early war in the Pacific, which seems to have included, for him less direct contact with the Japanese than the experience of Eugene Sledge fighting in the latter parts, and more psychological conflict with the jungle and the weather. Leckie and Sledge also provide a contrast in attitudes; Sledge the 'good' marine who never saw the brig and Leckie who made several visits there in his time. The final contrast of note between the tow marines is on the dropping of the Atomic bombs - the is no doubt that after his experiences at Okinawa Sledge feels it was full justified and save lives on both sides where as Leckie, while I think relieved the War was over describes the mushroom cloud the "symbol of our sin". A very personal account of the war that does not try to give a big picture of what was going on but rather the everyday experience of the front line private. I don't know who said "war is a lot of waiting, followed by moments of intense fear" but this book describes both parts well and probably with close to the right weighing.Well written and well worth the time and effort to read.
SteveRambach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to watch the HBO miniseries THE PACIFIC which was based on two books HELMET FOR MY PILLOW by Robert Leckie AND WITH THIS OLD BREED by E.B.Sledge. Together they take you through Guadalcanal through Okinawa. Leckie has a rich vocabulary and Sledge writes with his heart. Both powerful books with Sledge's book is extraordinary. Ken Burns featured Sledge in his documentary THE WAR. Reading done and not I can reward myself and watch THE PACIFIC.
rory1000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is at its best when describing the soldier's life outside of the combat zone. From a social history perspective the relationship between American servicemen and their Australian hosts was deeply fascinating.This work is also a useful addition to the ever expanding literature on the effects of combat stress, and has great utility considering the era it was written in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well done, thank you for your service!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My father served in the south pacific during WW2 with the 6th Army. My father didn't say much about it while I was growing up. I know he said he he lost a couple close buddies. He said he went through hell and back during his time following the Marines and was also awarded a purple heart and a Bronze Star. My father's dead now but I hope he read the book. it's an excellent accouting of Luck'c
Anonymous More than 1 year ago