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Helmet for My Pillow

From Parris Island to the Pacific: A Young Marine's Stirring Account of Combat in World War II
Written by: Robert Leckie
Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
5 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 31.27
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Publisher's Summary

The celebrated 2010 HBO miniseries The Pacific, winner of eight Emmy Awards, was based on two classic books about the War in the Pacific, Helmet for My Pillow and With The Old Breed. Audible Studios, in partnership with Playtone, the production company co-owned by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and creator of the award-winning HBO series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, as well as the HBO movie Game Change, has created new recordings of these memoirs, narrated by the stars of the miniseries. James Badge Dale (who portrayed Robert Leckie) and Joseph Mazello (who played Eugene Sledge) bring all the passion and emotion of their riveting television performances to these new audio productions.

In Helmet for My Pillow, Robert Leckie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This riveting first-person account follows his odyssey from basic training 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 Division and the brutal action on Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu, Leckie spares no detail of the horrors and sacrifices of war, painting an unvarnished portrait of how real warriors are made, fight, and often die in the defense of their country.

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 war is really like when victory can only be measured inch by bloody inch. Woven throughout are Leckie's hard-won, eloquent, and thoroughly unsentimental meditations on the meaning of war and why we fight.

BONUS AUDIO: Tom Hanks, one of the executive producers, has written and narrated an original introduction to Helmet for My Pillow, where he describes his appreciation for the book's author, the narrators, and the soldiers who had fought in the cauldron of the Pacific Theater during World War II.

©1957 Robert Hugh Leckie. "The Battle of the Tenaru" c. 2001 by Robert Hugh Leckie. (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

“Robert Leckie's unvarnished 1957 memoir paints a vivid picture of his experiences as a Marine on the frontlines of the Pacific Theater in WWII. Using the unadorned demeanor of a tough Marine, narrator James Badge Dale delivers Leckie's eloquent text with intensity and respect. He adopts a touch of humor when describing the occasional raucous camaraderie of the men but mostly employs a hard-boiled, sturdy veneer for Leckie's revealing and sometimes shocking narrative. Dale's unrelenting pronunciation of long "a"s (such as "a gun") is at first distracting but eventually comes to feel like the unyielding backbone of a young warrior facing the brutal action of battle. A brief introduction from Tom Hanks helps the listener anticipate the significance of this powerful American chronicle.” ( AudioFile)
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)
“One hell of a book! The real stuff that proves the U.S. Marines are the greatest fighting men on earth!” (Leon Uris, author of Battle Cry)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Pacific

Good book, the performance by James Badge Dale was great. #Audible1. Was a good read if you want more to the story of Robert Leckie from the HBO’s the Pacific.

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  • Randall
  • 2019-04-03

Should be required reading in high school

This is one of the top WW2 history or biographies that I've read or listened to,
and is a truly moving account. History for me is a passion and I try 5 or 6 new
books a year. This author Robert Leckie tells of his experiences in such a way
that you can truly begin to understand the horrors of war, and what it was like
to be a front line soldier.

They gave up so much, and their story deserves to be told and retold .

36 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • ShadowOverlord4
  • Missouri
  • 2018-03-01

every American needs to read/hear this

A well described and explained account from the hell of the Pacific. Should be taught in schools.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Randall Mayer
  • 2018-12-24

A must listen

Totally different than the old breed. Steady as you go commentary on military service. In and out of combat that makes it different than old breed. Not as much combat but still as moving and personal. Another must listen on war in the Pacific.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Tracie
  • 2019-01-14

God bless America!

Poetic in verse, horrific in truth! Thank God for the men who stand and fight to keep us free!!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Russell Bernard
  • Salt Lake City, Utah United States
  • 2018-06-07

What a Great Book

The narration was perfect and should not be missed. I was moved by the prologue and found this book to stir emotions inmy sole about the ugliness of war. If you listen to any world war ll book this should be the one. This is how we would experience it if we where sent during this time. The writing is excellent. I am now listening to With The Old Breed as I work my through several world war ll books this summer.

Not for the faint of heart!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam
  • 2018-12-15

Humbling

Great book and great read by those who put a voice to the words bring back to life what was to be learned and remembered.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • neale aslett
  • 2018-06-23

Boring.

Written in a style by an author in love with his own voice. There are too many poetic alliterations & I mean WAY too many. I gave up.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-06-15

Great Account

A wonderful experience from start to finish. Listen in conjunction with Eugene Sledge's "With the Old Breed".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • bettersafethansorry
  • 2014-07-15

Great story, but a bit too poetic

What did you love best about Helmet for My Pillow?

It's a great story and the narration was super, the only complaint would be that Leckie is a bit too flowery with his language, but that isn't a reason not to listen. Leckie really gets you to feel how horrible war is in a way that makes you ashamed if you've never been there and somehow thought it would be cool or glorious.

20 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • DrPhil
  • Brandon, MS
  • 2014-08-05

A gripping first-hand account of the pacific war

What does James Badge Dale and Tom Hanks (introduction) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Having seen the mini-series "the pacific" it was very appropriate to hear James Badge Dale as the narrator. He did a great job as well.

Any additional comments?

This book is an amazing account of the pacific war. I was worried about purchasing this at first because I know Leckie is a writer. This gave me pause because I figured there would be too many creative adjectives mucking up the story. I assumed there would be otherwise long descriptions of things that were quite elegant, but were side notes to the story. After having listened I feel like it really enhanced the story and he was not too verbose. The descriptions of things were just embellished or compared to creative normal experiences to make it colorful but not in an overly dramatic way as I had feared. I plan to purchase more of Leckie's books. I also read Sledge's 'with the old breed' and I think I liked both of these books about equally as well. Sledge's perhaps gave a better overall picture to the question 'what was it really like' as there are parts of this book were he tells what happened but can't remember all the details or glosses over some detail. Overall worth the time though. I recommend both.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful