Title: Helmet for my Pillow
Author: Robert Leckie
Publisher: Ebury Press
Release Date: 1957
Genre(s): Memoir, History, World War II
Purchase: The Book Depository | Amazon
❝ 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 it’s really like when victory can only be measured inch by bloody inch. Unparalleled in its immediacy and accuracy, Helmet for My Pillow tells the gripping true story of 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.❞
This is a non-fiction retelling about the war in The Pacific, written by veteran Robert “Bob” Leckie. Robert Leckie was probably one of the most intelligent men among his fellow marines and it shows in his writing. His thoughts are profound and his words poetic, making his book one of the better writings on World War II.
There are so many reasons why I love Helmet for My Pillow. As I’ve mentioned above, Leckie has a beautiful and poetic writing style, in which he expresses his thoughts on his fellow comrades, the enemy, the fighting and the war in general. However, it’s not so much that, as the fact that – while each sentence is carefully constructed – the book still is a page turner. We all know how often profound prose keeps us from continuing a book, making it a slow and dull read. That was not the case with this book though and it serves as proof of the fact that Leckie is a great writer.
More importantly, I loved all his little insights in the life of a Marine. The reader gets an insight into not only Leckie’s mind and his humanizing thoughts on the enemy, but you get to experience the daily process while in deployment, the frustration felt because of incompetent or spiteful superiors. Bust most of all, you get to experience the brutality and horror of the fighting. Leckie’s writing pulls you into his story to such a point where you can vividly imagine the hot days and rainy nights, the constant fear of being attacked, hunger, pain, everything. You are alongside the author step by step in his journey and nothing can possibly give you a greater insight on what the war was really like.
Then at times when the story becomes too dreadful to imagine, too sad, Leckie provides the reader with some comedy in the form of the shenanigans of himself and his friends. This addition does not only serve as comic relief, but it showed me as a reader that there was still laughter among all the pain, still a spark in these men and a hope in their hearts. I admire their ability to make light of even the darkest of situations.
In conclusion, if you want an honest and accurate account of World War II in the Pacific Theatre, this is the book for you. It offers you all you could possibly want to inquire about, and much more.