Helmet for My Pillow review ☆ 108

Summary Ø eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF ✓ Robert Leckie

Helmet for My PillowNow the inspiration behind the HBO series THE PACIFICHere 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 war's fiercest fighting took place Recounting his service with the 1st Marine Divisio. I recently read the analog to this book With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge about many of the same Marine engagements in the South Pacific during WWII I thought HFMP would be a rehash of the same but its told by a different kind of writer While Sledge is thoughtful simple in his prose and sees most things through a moral lens Robert Leckie is profane writes brilliantly and celebrates situational morality he and his fellow jarheads carouse callously in Melbourne; steal from each other in combat; display no sensitivity to death; fake illness to be removed from combat; and bitterly hate both the enemy and their own officers Nevertheless both are truly powerful The myth of the greatest generation has been flogged ad nauseum and I've partaken in it my own father flew B 24s in the Palaus but after these two fine books I see these men as they truly were young scared soldiers who were asked to do the most terrible things mankind is capable of sometimes wilfully sadly and they were necessarily scarred thereby Sledge went on to a uiet life as a college biology professor; Leckie became a prolific novelist 40 or Both survived into their 80s and both from what I've gathered were fine upstanding men after the WarBut only Sledge's weaknesses were not hardened by the War He entered the Marines an honest good boy experienced horror rejected it as best he could and left it behind when the War was over He never put the uniform on againFrom Leckie's book I wonder Was he able to do the same Unless his book is full of hyperbole which I doubt; he and Sledgehammer were in the same conflict on Peleliu his casual acceptance of the brutality in which they engaged HAD to have devastating longterm conseuences for his own lifeThere is no GOOD war from the soldier on the ground's perspective; the only good war is a short war where you survive and Robert Leckie suffered through the entire endless Pacific campaign My heart goes out to his suffering privations and the inevitable damage he suffered; indeed Leckie himself wonders in the book who was hurt those who died or those who lived Yet his own moral failings which undoubtedly preceded the War reveal his lack of true understanding of the conflict the book's epilogue is a meditation about the wrongfulness of the atom bomb yet Leckie had to know the projected American casualty rates had we invaded Japan itself Leckie might have been one of the men on those beaches facing tens of thousands of fanatical emperor worshipers His lack of comprehension that the atom bomb saved untold American AND Japanese lives betrays a moral blindness that is the root cause of his many smaller moral failings he so eagerly and definitively recounts in the book In addition HFMP was published than ten years after the end of WWII and the horror of the atom bomb had kept the peace until then It still keeps the peace today; our conflicts are sporadic and small There are no wars any where 7000 men die in a fortnightTrue war still exists and probably always will I don't believe in the perfectablility of man and therefore have little hope he will improve drastically in my lifetime Leckie and Sledge saw the proof of this in dramatic unforgettable terms and both lived to tell about it Both men exhibited courage and honor but only Sledge proved that War doesn't always bring out the worst in a man as wellNevertheless this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for the serious student of WWII or any war for that matter

review Helmet for My Pillow

Helmet for My Pillow review ☆ 108 í Now the inspiration behind the HBO series THE PACIFICHere 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 CN 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 countryFrom 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 it's really like when victory can only be measured inch by blo. Those of you that are my GR friends or simply follow my reviews know that I have a fondness for those histories that recount the experiences of the common man that lives through the great events that history memorializes I especially enjoy reading about the exploits of the common frontline soldier in any history of any battle or war When I found this book I gladly placed it on my TBR shelf expecting it to add to my knowledge of the ordeal that was WWII in the Pacific Several years ago I read Adam Makos' book Voices of the Pacific and was uite moved by it I expected this book to do the same and it did but it was also a different perspective of the same experiences and the same eventsHelmet For My Pillow is an autobiographical tale about a journalist that volunteers for the Marine Corps shortly after Pearl Harbor Voices of the Pacific is a collection of the stories of several Marines and biographical and anecdotal in scope and far graphic and at times horrific Helmet is very different even though both books detail much of the same experiences and events You would expect any book written by a Marine veteran about his war time experiences would be written in coarse graphic detail and peppered with profanity but that is not the case with this book and that is one of the things that surprised me about the book and its author The author's prose is astonishing at times Parts of this book read like an epic poem and in other portions the author lapses into thoughtful reflections about life and death war heroes victims and the worth of it all This is a combat Marine veteran and his words are freuently haunting I can only speculate that these thoughts and words are the result of Mr Leckie's experiences and the memories he has of those men with whom he lived those experiences and especially the men that didn't return This is a very moving book and for reasons I did not expect If you would like to know what it was like for a civilian to enter the Marines at the beginning of WWII and go through Boot Camp then further training only to then be shipped off to the Pacific to endure a combat experience never before known then this book is something you should pick up and read Probably the most unsettling difference between the Army's war in Europe and the Marine's war in the Pacific was that in the Pacific there was no safe rear area In Europe troops could be regularly rotated to the rear for RR while in the Pacific that wasn't possible The Marines were on the line and in jeopardy for months at a time without rest and their war was truly a hell on earth ordeal This book will help the reader understand what we owe those men

Robert Leckie ✓ 8 review

Ody 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 comeHelmet 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. Sometimes other readers elaborate my thoughts on a book so well that I can't but link to their review and for Helmet for my Pillow I think this review sums them up bestHaving also read Eugene B Sledge's memoir before Leckie's I pretty much agree with Kenny Kemp's points in comparing both with the exception that I don't think Leckie writes brilliantly On the contrary I think he's a passable writer and writes like a journalist which might make him easier to read but not necessarily a better storyteller His lack of self reflection is another aspect that struck me from the start because he does fail to notice the irony and contradiction between what he says and what is going on round him He breezes through his combat experience during the major battles the First Marines engage in and spends onpage time on his resting time experience in the civilian world which although rather revealing about his person makes it rather hard to put oneself in his shoes If Sledge shows you war is hell Leckie tells you war is hell all the while he's accepting of this hell and painting himself as part of the problem Kenny explained this better than I could here But only Sledge's weaknesses were not hardened by the War He entered the Marines an honest good boy experienced horror rejected it as best he could and left it behind when the War was over He never put the uniform on againFrom Leckie's book I wonder Was he able to do the same Unless his book is full of hyperbole which I doubt; he and Sledgehammer were in the same conflict on Peleliu his casual acceptance of the brutality in which they engaged HAD to have devastating longterm conseuences for his own lifeThat's the thing for me You can only guess with Leckie There's a scene in With the Old Breed that's my favourite Sledge is about to take a dead Japanese soldier's gold teeth out of his mouth and is stopped by the company's corpsman with the excuse that it's full of germs He's aware of the excuse being silly but realises what the corpsman is trying to do save him from giving in to the brutality of war and losing his soul to it And stops That scene was reproduced in HBO's The Pacific as was only replacing the corpsman by a teammateBut would Leckie have stopped That's the uestion I think he wouldn't have stopped He's too accepting and goes along with the brutal flow The book is full of anecdotes that uestion his character after all and you can easily see why HBO would whitewash Leckie for television like they didn't need to do with Sledge and BasiloneI do however believe that his account is still valuable and worth a read It brings to the table a different perspective and is an example of how differently men adjust to both war and peace in mind body and behaviour For that Helmet for my Pillow is a good source of information to learn and understand what it is like to be in a war