Amazon Banner

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie

Genre: Nonfiction, Military History

Setting: During World War II, in Boot Camp at Parris Island, and on various islands in the Pacific theater of the war.

First Sentence. A cutting wind slanted up Church Street in the cheerless dawn of January 5, 1942.

This memoir of the Marines during the Pacific campaign was used as source material for the HBO miniseries The Pacific.

War looks different depending upon your point of view.  For the folks back home the sanitized version of the war was all about glory and heroism.  For the generals and admirals, the war was strategy, tactics, battles, and casualty reports.  But for the Marines on the front lines the war was mud and blood and rain and just staying alive.

In his memoir, Robert Leckie shows us what being a front line Marine was like during World War II.

At Parris Island, the tough Old Breed of veteran noncoms tried to prepare Leckie and his buddies for the hardships of war.

At Guadalcanal, the Marines faced a fearsome foe.  The Japanese soldiers were experienced and well trained.  They fought hard and would never surrender.

At New Britain, the jungle and the rain became the enemy.  The jungle was filled with noxious plants, poisonous insects, and trees called widow-makers.  The rain was never ending.  It destroyed equipment and rotted the clothes off of the Marines' bodies.

At Peleliu, the Marines payed a horrific price in sweat and blood for a small desolate lump of coral.

Through it all, the Marines fought hard.  In the time between the battles, during the unending days and weeks of ennui, the Marines blew off steam.  They went AWOL.  They got drunk.  They got in fights. And some spent time in the brig.  Sometimes, they stole some of the officers supplies.  (Leckie and his buddies had little respect for the officers.)  For what punishment could be worse than the realities of every day life for the Marines on the front lines.

In the end, we, like Leckie, are left to ponder the value of the loss of so many lives.

I truly enjoyed this book.  It was written an an easy to read style.  For me, it was a page turner.  The pages flew by and it was like Bob Leckie was there with me telling war stories.

In my opinion this was a great read.


No comments:

Post a Comment