Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie
Download Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie PDF book free online – Robert Leckie signed up for service with the United States Marines on January 5, 1942.
Wake Island had fallen and America was still reeling from the tragedy of Pearl Harbor.
This vivid and personal account of one marine’s journey through the course of the war in the Pacific in World War Two.
Leckie provides vivid, and at times humorous, details of his training in South Carolina, through to being assigned to first terrifying duties as a fighting marine.
He was thrust into the heat of battle at Guadalcanal before seeing action across many islands of the Pacific until he was eventually wounded and evacuated from the island of Peleliu.
Yet this fascinating autobiography is not simply about Leckie’s fighting life over the duration of the war as it also records the camaraderie of his fellow soldiers, the adventures that he enjoyed during his time off service in Melbourne, Australia, along with the day to day life of a normal marine.
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
This work is essential reading for anyone interested in uncovering the voice of a true marine who saw some of the bloodiest battles of World War Two.
Along with EB Sledge’s With the Old Breed: At Peleiu and Okinawathis book formed the basis for the HBO miniseries The Pacific .
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Robert Leckie was an American author and historian. His service with the 1st Marine Division in World War Two as a machine gunner and a scout greatly influenced his later work. Helmet for my Pillow was first published in 1957 and Leckie passed away in 2001.
Review of Helmet for My Pillow
I was given this book by a veteran named Robert Brutinel who had served in the Marine paratroops. He joined in 1942 and arrived on Guadalcanal after the climactic fighting. However, I have served on Vella La Vella and Choiseul and then fought in the 5th Division and was wounded on Iwo. When he handed me the book he said, “If you want to know what it was like, this is it.” He thought the humor of the book and the camaraderie of the Marines was exactly like what he experienced. So I read the book. To this day, it is my all-time favorite Pacific theater book. And it’s right up there, in my opinion, with the Forgotten Soldier on the “all-time best WWII book” shelf (with a handful of others.)
I couldn’t help but read some of the critical reviews. I completely disagreed with them. Often they accused the author, Robert Leckie, of having a great resentment toward leadership and authority. I did not find that the case at all. In fact, Leckie often praised officers and had great respect for the good ones. What he couldn’t stand, and it shows in his book, is unfair use of power in leadership positions – also called theft. In almost every instance, be it the cigars LT Ivy-League stole, or the Japanese footlocker stolen by LT Big Picture, Leckie had every right to be angry and I wonder if any of the people who criticized him would have acted any differently.
Another criticized Leckie for drinking and womanizing when he was not in combat. Apparently that reader did not realize that Leckie (just like the thousands of other Marines who took liberty Down Under) had been on Guadalcanal for 5 months, with nothing but death staring him in the face and not a single woman to lay eyes on, and was now on liberty in the very country he had helped save from invasion, knowing he would be going back into combat soon. Leckie was no different than many of the other Marines, just more honest about it. I laughed at the part when a Marine was coming back from a rendezvous with a young Australian girl and commented to Leckie that the Australian girls had no morals. Leckie’s comment to that hypocrisy made me laugh.
Helmet for my pillow is the type of book you simply can’t put down. And you will be reading it and people in the other room will ask you “What’s so funny?” because you often laugh out-loud at the wonderfully entertaining style Leckie uses. But at other times you will be riveted and saddened by the loss of great heroes like LT Racehorse and many others. (May they rest in peace.)
Robert Leckie was truly a gifted writer and it’s no wonder he made his career writing for newspapers and then writing best sellers. Fantastic book.