this is the 90th in my series of seldom read or forgotten books
Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie © 1957, this edition: Bantam 2010 trade paperback, non-fiction, WWII autobiographical
As a result of a July 3, 2012 post by James Reasoner on his blog Rough Edges. , I decided to read this. James has been posting older war films for the “forgotten films” blog meme hosted by Todd Mason. A couple of James’s posts have mentioned the books on which they were based, and I decided to seek them out. this being the first of the two I got that I’ve read.
When I was in college, lo those many years ago, I did read several WWII but most of what I read were overview histories of both the European and Pacific Theaters. I got this copy for cheap on the net. It’s a first printing, though in only fair condition. Who cares? I bought it to read, not put in a case to awe visitors.
This book is subtitled From Parris Island to the Pacific but it in fact covers a larger portion of the author’s life, through the war and into, just barely, his years with the Associated Press. It begins with a young Leckie signing up for the Marines just days after Pearl Harbor, his experiences in boot camp, then advanced training to be a machine gunner. Leckie was among the first wave of Marines to land on Guadalcanal, and it was tough fighting from the landing all the way into the interior.
The book follows the author’s throughout his time on Guadalcanal, through a furlough in Australia, and back into the war on New Brittan, which was by far the ugliest period of his war experience. Leckie pulls no punches in his descriptions of his own and other’s problems, wounds, sicknesses and desire just to be out of the war. The fighting for and taking of the Pacific island groups was some of the most unpleasant (disease, lack of supplies) and bloodiest of the war. This book takes us through Leckie’s share of it.
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The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinaise