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Helmet for my pillow ebook torrents

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She wears silk wrap dresses and is the only woman allowed to keep her hair down. She is clean and showered and never smells of salad dressing. Oh thanks. A tall woman and a balding man. I go out to the deck. The man looks on benevolently, red cheeked and mellow, a few cocktails already in him.

It looks like something my mother would wear. With your mom. The Doyles. Liz and Pat. She told Pat that I wanted him to ask me out. The cheek! And here we are. We were devastated to hear. Just devastated. We were in Vero, or we would have been at the service. I nod again. I nod to him and to everyone who stops me on my way back to the wait station. I unroll a place setting from the lunch bin and put my face in the napkin as I print out the check.

I push through the swinging door into the kitchen. I go into the walk-in. I stand in the dry cold, looking at the dairy shelves in back, the bricks of butter wrapped in wax paper and cartons of heavy cream. Cases of eggs. I breathe. I look down at my hand. Caleb let me have her ring. She wore it my whole life, a sapphire and two small diamonds. The sky and the stars we called it when I was little.

Her friend Janet had thought to take it off her finger afterward. My hand looks like hers when I wear it. I can do this, I say to the glinting blue-black eye. And I go out to take the order of Liz and Pat Doyle. They leave me their business cards, though, on the tray with their merchant receipt and cash tip. Sixteen percent. They both own their own businesses. Neither of them works in politics anymore. Table by table, people vanish, leaving behind their soiled napkins and lipstick markings.

The tablecloths are disheveled and crusted, wine bottles turned upside down in their watery holders, a sea of glasses and coffee cups and smeared dessert plates. Everything left for someone else to clean up. We work slowly now, getting the room and the deck back in order. Only Yasmin and Omar, who have dates waiting for them at the bar, are still moving quickly. The last thing is drying glasses and rolling more silverware for lunch. Alejandro brings out the steaming green racks of glasses.

Omar and I do the roll-ups: napkin folded into a triangle, spoon on top of fork on top of knife laid alongside the long edge, two side points folded in then everything rolled to the pointed tip. We have to have a hundred of them in the bin before we can leave. My body is depleted. The three miles to my potting shed feels far away. The dark, the heat, the few people paired up on the sidewalks. You taste like the moon, Luke said out in that field in the Berkshires. Fucking poet.

He took me unawares. In the morning I ache for my mother. But late at night it is Luke I mourn for. The BU Bridge is empty, silent. I arc up and over the water. This is a first. I roll my bike into the garage. This is a small victory. Two past-due notices and a wedding invitation have been slipped under my door. A message is flashing on my machine. My blood leaps. Old reflex. I hit Play. Long breath like a roll of thunder into the receiver. My mother died six weeks before I went to Red Barn.

I called to ask if I could change the dates, if I could come in the fall or next winter. Eight weeks. April 23 to June The Red Barn calendar, he said, was inalterable. A long silence spread between us. If you show your teeth or tongue, you must pay a forfeit.

Early spring. New England. I stepped off the bus and smelled my childhood, smelled the thawing earth in our yard and the daffodils at the end of the driveway. I heard her say my name, my old name, Camila, that only she called me. I felt the slippery seat in her blue Mustang, cold through my tights. At Red Barn, my mother was both dead and resurrected.

Before he was anything else, he was familiar. It started the fourth night I was there. One of the fellows was showing her film in the art shed. Luke came in a few minutes later. Onscreen, a power tool was drilling a screw into a raw egg. In very slow motion. Nor was I writing. I wanted to sleep, but I was scared of dreaming. In my dreams my mother was never herself. Something was always off. She was too pale or too bloated or wearing heavy velvet clothing.

She was weak, she was failing, she was fading from view. I was often trying to persuade her to stay alive, long soliloquies about what she needed to do differently. I woke up exhausted. Animals rustled outside my window. When Luke stood behind me, I became animal myself: alert, cautious, curious. More people came in and he was pushed in closer and there were long moments when my shoulder blades rested against his chest. I felt him breathing in and out, felt his breath in my hair. When it was over, I staggered out of the room and onto the porch.

It was still light out. The sky was violet, the trees dark blue. The frogs had started up in the pond across the road, louder and louder the closer you listened. Luke came up beside me. We looked out at the fields. The back of his hand brushed up against the back of mine and stayed there. He lived in New York now. In Harlem. He asked where I lived. There was a gazebo on the town green in Pawtucket. I had a deck of cards in my backpack, and we sat up there cross-legged and played Spit in the dark.

His flashlight lit up the piles of cards spread out between us, and he chuckled. He took care of his grandson on Thursday nights, he told us. He had a bad hip and moved slowly back to his cruiser. He drove with his left hand on the wheel and his right tucked under my arm, his fingers curving slowly around the outline of my breast.

It was strong, whatever was between us, thick, like the wet air and the smell of every green thing ready to bloom. Maybe it was just spring. We took our lunch baskets and ate ham sandwiches by the pond near our cabins. We walked into a cluster of cattails, some of their pods new and green and some, maybe left over from fall, long and brown and tall as us. Luke called them bulrushes and yanked me close.

We both tasted of mayonnaise. Our heads knocked against the brown pods. The sun felt warm for the first time. I told him the things that were coming back to me about my mother when I was little: her lemon smell and her gardening gloves with the rubber bumps and her small square toes that cracked when she walked barefoot. Her tortoiseshell headbands that were salty at the tips if you sucked on them. I can feel her right here. We ran to the lake, swam across it, ran back to the dorm and took a bath together in the tub with the clawed feet and two taps and a rubber plug on a chain.

Water sloshed all over the wood floor. We lay damp on his bed laughing, our chests pumping at the same time, knocking together, making us laugh even harder. When I looked at him I hid nothing. He was married once, he said. It was a long time ago. It was too strong. I wanted him too much. It never went away.

And I needed sleep to write. During the day I mooned at my window, waiting for his steps on my porch. Pull yourself together and do your work, I could hear my mother chide me. But I was too far gone to listen. Luke was writing. He wrote five poems that first week, eleven the next. He lay down on the cot in my cabin. They impregnate flowers, and they give us our food supply.

They work as a collective. Is it a stand of trees or the open space between them? You have no idea what half the words you worship mean. He wrote eight more bee poems then took me to the Berkshires in his truck to see his friend Matt, who kept hives. I peed a little and had to change my underwear at a rest stop, and he called me Betsy Wetsy the rest of the trip.

We arrived in the late afternoon. From what Luke had told me about Matt, I was picturing a guy in a shack with piles of garbage in the back, but he lived in a bright red house with window boxes full of flowers. His wife, Jen, came out first, and she and Luke bear hugged, swaying with exaggeration and affection.

She said you could sleep in her tree house, which is not an invitation she extends very often. My friends seemed to get married and disappear. Or maybe I disappeared. Nia and Abby had stayed in touch until they had babies. When people have babies they stop calling you back. When he made his way to me he held up a knitted brown goat with tiny white horns. I squatted down to have a look, and he squeaked in surprise. Instead of backing up he put his face unnaturally close to mine.

Another squeak. He did the same. He smelled faintly of poop and Desenex. How did I even know it? One, two on the horns. Three on his nose. He opened his mouth—a dark toothless cavern—and after a few seconds a loud cackle came out. I imitated him—the open mouth, the delay, the laugh—and he took it as an invitation to sit on my lap, which, because I was squatting, had to be created quickly. We dropped down onto the floor at the same time. Jen shot me a grateful smile.

She was talking to Matt and Luke about their plans for creating a neighborhood CSA and protesting against the Starbucks that had bought out the local doughnut shop. Matt took us out back to see the bees. They had meadows and woods beyond the meadows. We followed a path that had been cut through the long grass and wildflowers to the white boxes of bees. Matt picked up a can and stuffed it with a burlap cloth and lit the cloth on fire and pumped air into it from a bellows on the side, and smoke started coming out of the nose at the top of the can.

He lifted up the lid of a white box and set the smoker nearby then pulled up one of the trays of combs. It was covered in layers and layers of bees, and they clung on as he raised it high, every bee moving on top of other bees. As he continued to hold it up, the whole mass of them began to change shape and sag with gravity, some dribbling off like drops of liquid back into the box. It was revolting. I had to work hard to not imagine a sudden swarm.

Luke was mesmerized. The grass we were standing in was itchy and I just wanted Matt to lower the lid so I could go back into the kitchen and sit back down on the floor with their squeaky little boy, but we stayed out there a long time, going from box to box, though they were all the same, always a huge churning drooping clump of bees. Dinner was to be an herb pasta and salad. Jen brought in basil, rosemary, sage, red lettuce, and a bowlful of misshapen tomatoes from their greenhouse.

Matt, Luke, and I were put to chopping, and the kitchen smelled like we were still outside. They were the kind of people who were only inside when they had to be. We ate on the back patio at a table that Matt had made from an old door. Luke sat beside me, but not close to me, on a long bench.

They asked me a few questions, and I kept my answers short. They were kind people doing their best to be welcoming, but they did not want me there and I did not know why. The baby got passed around. Matt passed him to Luke, and they got quiet. Luke held him up to his face, and the boy plucked at his glasses until he noticed me beside Luke and lunged at me with both arms. I caught him and we all laughed and Luke looked relieved.

He got strangely buoyant then and told a story about how when he was four he walked a mile to the penny candy store naked. The police brought him back home. After another long hour around a fire pit, Luke and I walked in the dark to the treehouse. I needed to touch him, press against him and relieve my heaviness, my swollen ache for him. Lightning bugs flashed everywhere, for hundreds of feet in every direction. We kissed hungrily and pulled apart our clothes and pushed hard against each other in the thick spring grass.

Everything else vanished into my desire for him. We lay there a long time afterward, and the lightning bugs came closer and closer and flashed so near we could have touched them. He gave a half laugh, but he was gone somewhere else by then. There was only one thin mattress and one pillow in the treehouse. He moved the flashlight around the room, and it lit up a box of Legos and a couple of board games and two dolls in chairs having a tea party.

Luke got under the blankets and I curled up close, but even his skin felt plastic and closed off. He reached up to touch the corner of a drawing stuck on the wall with a thumbtack. It was hard to tell what it was, a house or a dog. He was gone when I woke up. Jen left her boy with me while she took a shower.

Luke and Matt came back and ate egg sandwiches outside. By the time we got in the car to leave I was shaking with hunger and confusion. We drove an hour after that, barely speaking. Not good. It was too confusing, he said. It was too much. It was too unbalanced.

There was a disconnect between our souls and our bodies, he said. I skipped dinner and stayed in my cabin. I lit a fire and stared at it. He found me there. He was inside me before the screen door had stopped shaking. We lay on the old rug sweating, all the tension and misery of the day washed away.

I felt loose and weightless. We looked at the signatures on the wall of all the writers and artists who had stayed in my cabin. He said his friend Adam had a place I could rent cheap in Brookline. Write your book. He never had before. I wondered if I did, too. You sound like a fool who is sabotaging an amazing opportunity. Get ahold of yourself. Two months. Twelve pages. While poetry poured out of Luke. Poems about lightning bugs, bullfrogs, and, finally, a dead child.

The one about the bullfrogs he taped to the seat of my banana bike. The one about the dead child he read to me early one morning, then shook in my arms for an hour afterward. I never showed him any of my novel. His last week there he gave a reading in the library.

He was nervous walking over. He gripped the pages and told me they were all for me, about me, because of me. But when he was at the podium and I was in the first row, he never looked at me. He read the poem about the dead child, and everyone wept. People leapt to their feet without thinking about it. On his last night, we took a walk down a road lit blue by the moon.

A cow in a field lumbered beside us, the wire fence invisible. We turned down the dirt road to the lake and dropped our clothes in the grass and swam in silence toward the middle. The frogs, which had stopped their singing, resumed full throttle. We came together, cool and rubbery, and we sank as we kissed. It blotted out all the stars nearby. The water dripped from our raised arms back into the lake.

He did not say how. The next day he got in his truck and rolled down the window. He put his palm flat to his chest. The number he gave me rang and rang. No person. No machine. I had a week left at Red Barn, and I tried that number from the wooden phone cabinet before every meal.

On my last night there I sat next to a painter. He knew her in New York. Her eyes were kind. She passed me the mashed potatoes. I wait at the Sunoco station. My legs begin to shake. His truck slides up beside me, and he gets out, scrawnier than I remember. His hair is longer.

It looks dirty. We hug. He swings my banana bike into the back of the truck without comment, without recognition. We get into the cab, our old positions. We head west to Route 2. He wants to go swimming at Walden Pond. Their bodies are bouncing, their bathing suit butts drooping from the water and the sand. We step into a shady stand of pines and I nearly crash into Henry Thoreau. Behind him is a replica of his cabin. The door is open. I step up into it.

On the far wall is a brick hearth and a potbellied stove in front of it. All I can feel is the effort of reproduction. Nothing of Thoreau is here. Luke takes my hand and tugs me to sit on the bed with him. It would probably end up in a poem. I take pleasure in not showing it to him. I get up and step down onto the yellow pine needles.

We cross the street and join a stream of people walking down the path. Below us on the small beach, bodies swarm. Children cry. Last month there was an hour wait just to get into the lot. He was here last month. The month he did not call me. It takes so much effort just to follow him around the bathing beach to a trail in the woods around the pond. A wire fence runs along the water side of the path, and there are signs prohibiting people from going off the path and destroying the fragile ecosystem.

But people have disobeyed, and all the small patches of sand you can see through the trees are taken so we keep walking. We find an empty little beach and crawl between the wires and down the steep embankment to it. We spread our towels a few feet apart. He gets up after a few minutes and sits on mine with me. My body aches from my throat to my groin. I want him to slide his fingers into my bathing suit and make all the heaviness and misery go away.

I feel like a hag in a fairy tale, waiting to be made young and supple again. I get up and walk into the water. I read the book in high school, when I lived less than an hour from here, but I never thought of it as a place that still existed.

I drop into the water and push out from the shore on my back. He stays on my towel and gets smaller and smaller in his white T-shirt. The shirt smells. I remember knowing that he smelled when I first met him.

Then I stopped noticing. The trees are so tall from this angle, dark, with their hardening summer leaves. When I get out he watches my body and the water rushing off of it. I stay where I am. A swimmer, a woman with strong mottled arms in a bright-blue bathing cap, cuts a diagonal line across the pond. I am the on- call that night. In his truck I smooth out my skirt.

The truck glides along Memorial Drive. I see my path by the river, the geese at the base of the Western Ave. All your life there will be men like this, I think. He pulls up next to the marigolds. I see his forehead resting on his hands on the steering wheel as I pull my bike out of the back. I wheel it around to his window and ring my bell out of habit. It is the sound of me coming to his cabin at the end of the day. I want to take that sound and stuff it into a bag with rocks and throw it in the river.

He smiles and rests both elbows along the side of his truck. My body is fighting me. If I get closer, he will put his fingers in my hair. I squeeze the handlebars and stay in place. I sit on my banana bike as he backs up, shifts, and pulls out. I stay there beside the marigolds on the side of the Sunoco station until his truck disappears around the bend where the river turns west. We met here in Cambridge six years ago, in line for the bathroom at the Plough and Stars, and hung out for a while before we both moved away for grad school.

I was refilling their waters and said, Muriel Becker? I got her number from her aunt. The day after Walden, Muriel takes me to a launch party of a writer she knows. I ride to her place in Porter Square, and we walk up Avon Hill. The houses get fancier the higher we climb, grand Victorians with wide front porches and turrets. Basically you cut out the backbone and sort of compress all the pieces in a pan. I can tell by the way her long arms are flying all around. I have not.

I have to reenact on the sidewalk the way he bit my knee. But my chest is still burning. I did that this time. You know I do. The party is at the end on the left, a massive house: bow windows, three stories, mansard roof. The doorway is jammed. We stand on the threshold, unable to enter. The other guests are mostly older by twenty or thirty years, the women in stockings and heels, the men in sports jackets. The air smells like a cocktail party from the seventies, aftershave and martini onions.

The party is for a writer who leads a fiction workshop at his house near the Square on Wednesday nights. I have to keep moving forward. The writer had been a professor at BU until three years ago when his wife died, and he left teaching to write full-time and be home for his kids.

And if he really loves it, his fingers will be laced together in his lap by the end. So this is definitely a step up. We inch our way through the vestibule into a living room, which is slightly less jammed. Muriel grabs my arm and pulls me through an archway into a smaller room lined with books. Usually Muriel mauls people. He shifts a book from one hand to the other to shake it. His eyes are dark brown and hooded. Muriel points to the book. I was one of the first to arrive and he was sitting at the dining room table with a huge stack of books next to him.

From last week. Carry on, Alice, it says above the signature. We laugh. Two women are waving from the far side of the other room, trying to squeeze their way toward us. Muriel sees them and presses back into the crowd to meet them halfway. The paper is rough, old-fashioned, like heavy typewriter paper. By Oscar Kolton. I flip to the back flap to see what Oscar Kolton looks like. Silas studies the photo with me.

It was taken from the side, one of his shoulders in the foreground, elbow to knee, bicep flexed. The contrast between black and white is so extreme his face looks carved out like an Ansel Adams rock face and the backlighting has turned his pupils to pinpricks. She has a big apologetic smile on her face. I bounce the photo in front of Silas. I sneer and flip him two birds. He laughs again. He has a chipped front tooth, a clean diagonal cut off one corner. Muriel is bringing her friends toward us.

Behind his back. So maybe not so impressive. Are you going back next week? It might be too religious for me. A lot of verbal genuflecting. Silas hesitates. People just take down everything he says. People gasped. And then silence. I like a little more debate. Silas shifts slightly, putting a bit more of his back to them. She introduces us. One is an infectious disease doctor specializing in AIDS research, and the other heads up a nonprofit in Jamaica Plain.

Maxx in Fresh Pond. They have crossed the room for Silas, and they pepper him with questions. I drift out of the conversation, out of the room. I veer into the kitchen and peer at the writer through the window in the swinging door. I can only see the back of him, the rim of a blue tie showing beneath his collar and a shoulder blade jutting up through the white dress shirt as he signs his name. Every few minutes a server comes in for a refill.

It feels strange not to be the one wearing a bun and apron. I take a fig from the tray and a napkin from her other hand. The asphalt is purple in the dusk. We walk in the middle of the road down the hill. The sun has sunk but its heat hangs in the air. My ears ring from all the voices at the party. We talk about a book called Troubles that I read and passed along to her. She loved it as much as I did, and we go through the scenes we liked best.

The short biography on the back page said that the writer, J. Farrell, died while angling, swept out to sea by a rogue wave. You go out to see a man about a dog. I tell her Silas said that Wednesday nights felt cultish. She considers that. Maybe that is like a cult.

The streets are quiet on the way home, the river flat and glossy. The sky is the darkest blue it gets just before turning black. So do I, Muriel told him. He needed to be alone in a room with books. That was ten months ago. The next day David, the old boyfriend, calls her. They say women have intuition, but men can smell a competitor across state lines. We were supposed to go out Thursday night. Oh, holy crap, I nearly forgot. That guy Silas asked me for your number. An old-man voice. And we could get a bite to eat after.

It was something my mother would say. Do I really not know the name of that dog? My landlord. I take care of him sometimes. I should never answer the phone in the morning. He has called to ask you out on a date. Do not mention a dead mother. Very simpatico. It still burns a bit, coming out. He listens. He breathes into the phone. I can tell he lost someone close somehow. Your words go scattershot off of it. I ask him, and he says his sister died, eight years ago.

But she was struck by lightning. People can get very caught up in that. The symbolism. Or the physical details. Either one. It bugs me. I heard over the phone at five in the morning in a tiny kitchen in Spain. That day was the first day I felt okay. I went to the mall to get a pair of sneakers, and when I came back my father told me to sit down. I heard it all in his voice. I already knew.

For so long I was so mad he made me sit down. My class started twelve minutes ago. Summer school. Can I call you tonight? We hang up. My room comes into focus again, my desk, my notebook. Muriel comes to the potting shed after her walk with David. I make tea and we sit on my futon.

But he was just the same. He was unappealing to me. He wants me back. He made a terrible mistake, he said. And I just kept thinking, When can I get back in my car. Looking at the rest of his life scared him. But losing me, he said, was even scarier.

We went around and around. For hours. He was so dramatic, leaping around me, throwing out his arms. He actually hit a runner at one point. He cried. It was awful. It was over. It was so clear. And when he tried to kiss me, I shoved him away. My arms just pushed him away before I knew what I was doing.

It was so physical, the repulsion. It felt biological. Like I knew I would never have children with this man. It was so awful and weird. I make more tea and cinnamon toast and we scoot back on the futon and lean against the wall, eating and sipping and looking out my one window at the driveway where Adam seems to be arguing with Oli the cleaning lady. But the older one nods. She flew from Phoenix to LA to Santiago. She had a cough left over from a cold but no fever.

Apart from that, she was in full health. Fifty-eight years old. No medical issues. Her friends get her to a clinic there and they put her on oxygen and radio for an air ambulance and just before it comes she dies. The younger one is still holding the sugar packet.

Why did her heart stop? Was it a pulmonary embolism? From the long plane flight? How do we get out of here? She was dozing. Sort of in and out. Then she sat up, said she had to make a phone call, lay back down again, and was dead. It was very peaceful, Janet told me. Such a pretty day. I tried, in phone calls with Janet, to get more detail than pretty day and peaceful.

Were children kicking a ball outside? Who did she sit up to call? Was there any noise at all when her heart stopped? Why did it stop? I wanted to hear my mother tell it. She loved a story. She loved a mystery. She could make any little incident intriguing. In her version, the doctor would have a wandering eye and three chickens in the back named after Tolstoy characters.

Janet would have a heat rash on her neck. I wanted her and no one else to tell me the story of how she died. Caleb and I opened it together. We lifted out her yellow rain slicker, her two cotton nightgowns, her one-piece bathing suit with the pink-and- white checks.

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Here he describes the training he experienced on Parris Island, South Carolina. Leckie is much more cerebral. He provides fewer details. There on page 43, the author seems to reveal his dark side. That shoplifting episode is followed by the theft of oranges aboard ship on page Twenty-eight pages later, Leckie stripped a dead Japanese soldier of his bayonet and field glasses. Nineteen more pages later, we find Chuckler and Leckie stealing more food from the U.

Eleven pages later, Leckie is incarcerated in the brig for the second time. The author steals more military food stuffs fourteen pages later. In my book, morally speaking, he comes off as a big zero. View all 15 comments. 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 best. Having 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 bett 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 best. 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 more 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. That'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. But would Leckie have stopped? That's the question. 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 question 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 Basilone.

I 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. Mar 12, Alexw rated it liked it. The author,Robert Leckie is a newspaper reporter and in writing books Hemingway and Ernie Pyle the exceptions , newspaper reporters fall into the trap of stating the who, what, when, where and why in first 2 paragraphs with no heart or emotion in rest of pages.

While a few of his pages described the horrors of war that the he was heroically involved in, most of the book described how he stole food from the marines supply cook of how he spent his time in the brig!! Wish I'd read this earlier - many, many years ago. The entire book is worthwhile, but I found I was particularly fascinated and enamored by the lengthy passage recalling the Marines' extraordinary efforts during the Guadalcanal campaign.

Great stuff! OK, OK, it's not light reading, and it's a WWII memoir - it's brutal and sad and graphic and poignant and, all too often, frightening and depressing. My guess is the Wish I'd read this earlier - many, many years ago. The book is extremely well constructed, the prose is tight, the descriptions are vivid, and the voice comes across, nay resonates, as extremely genuine. One of the most intriguing aspects of the book is how consistently the author keeps the first person narrative bounded by personal experience.

This is one Marine's experience and, with a minor exception in the conclusion which, frankly, did not move me as much as many other passages in the book , the author rarely broadens the perspective. In other words, it's not intended as a grand or all-encompassing history, it's a memoir, and an effective, convincing, and compelling one. I admit that personally , I was least amused by the author's and his colleagues liberty or leave experiences, particularly with regard to the great debauch.

Part of me is inclined to re-read Matterhorn for comparison's sake One theme that it hard to ignore in the book is the element of sacrifice, and - for my money - here is where the author is most eloquent, whether speaking of the issue directly or indirectly.

Jaded as the author may have been or have become , it's still a different time and place and culture than There's very little in this book in common with the popular recent books about overnight celebrity Navy SEALs or snipers or It's not just a different time and place. It's a different voice and culture and worldview and Well, you'll have to decide for yourself. A terrible tale told by a talented writer. There's a reason some books stand the test of time.

This is a good reminder of or introduction to our ancestor's service and sacrifice. Well worth reading. I down loaded this as an audio book so that I could learn more about some of the infantry battles on Guadalcanal and some of the other islands. Other than a fine account of the battle of the Teneru on Guadalcanal, I really didn't get what I expected.

The details of the battle are a little more sparse. What I did learn about was Leckie's experience as a private. I thought after what these boys had b I down loaded this as an audio book so that I could learn more about some of the infantry battles on Guadalcanal and some of the other islands. I thought after what these boys had been through, the Marine Corp seemed to get a little petty with the troops after they had left the front and they were sent to the rear to recuperate and rest.

I also thought that Leckie's platoon leaders did not treat him fairly. I really think tha this is a good book to read becasue it shows another side of what soldiers had to put up with. I also think that young platoon leaders should read this as well.

I really think if you want to read a better first hand account of the fighting read E. Sledge's With the Old Breed. Thank you for your service Mr. Semper Fi. I have read several of Leckie's other military histories and already enjoyed his writing. Here, Leckie was writing a first person narrative that truly portrayed the dogie dog days being a Marine in the jungles of the Pacific, fighting, clawing and, surviving each day.

His narrative and writing flowed so naturally that it transported me to these sites. Knowing that my father was in these same places during these battles while in the Navy dropping these men on the beaches, brought it home for me. If you are interested in a true portrayal of the war experience read this. So many HIGH marks for this book, however - not me.

Too many flowery words used in this true WW2 story. This is a memoir of Leckie's experiences after joining the Marine Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. It starts with boot camp at Parris Island and ends on his return to the US at the conclusion of the war. The reader relives the battles in the Pacific islands, shore leave in Australia, and even a stint in the brig.

Prior to the war, Leckie was a newspaper sports reporter, and after the war he continued working for various publications and the AP. In addition he wrote history and childre This is a memoir of Leckie's experiences after joining the Marine Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition he wrote history and children's books.

According to his wife, Leckie was inspired to write his war memoirs after walking out of a Broadway production of 'South Pacific', stating that war isn't a musical. One of my favorite quotes from the book. Leckie inadvertently ends up in a psych ward due to overcrowding in the regular recovery section.

He is being interviewed by a psychologist. The psychologist finds out how well read he is, then is appalled that his assignment was first as a machine gunner, and then a scout, and what a waste of intelligence that is. Keep it up America, keep telling your youth that mud and danger are fit only for intellectual pigs. Keep on saying that only the stupid are fit to sacrifice, that America must be defended by the low-brow and enjoyed by the high-brow.

It is equally as riveting, but the style and content are vastly different. Robert Leckie is a joker and a ratbag. He draws elaborate recollections of events, often where he himself temps trouble, or instigates pranks and evasive operations. Being a journalist, he has a colourful vocabulary and a sharp wit. He gives affectionate nicknames to This is one of the books on which Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks based their miniseries The Pacific.

He gives affectionate nicknames to all his characters, and although they are real people, their identities are concealed. A large portion of the book is devoted to what happened in between combat campaigns and how the marines entertained themselves in these times. Being Australian, I enjoyed reading about his fondness of Australia and there is about a hundred pages devoted to what the marines did in and around Melbourne during WWII.

Jan 15, Lawrence Paterson rated it it was amazing. Tremendous book! I thought Robert Leckie was brave to recall his story when committing it to print. I'm sure the memories must have haunted him terribly. Collecting war souvenirs from fallen enemies Never minding the dangerous alligator infested waters These are among a few of the scenes that I remember most.

Like Robert I'd have to agree that losing one's mind would be worse than losing an arm or leg. His prose-like style made the horrors of war more profound and thought-provoking. This scene was so visual to me and left my mind pondering I got up and made for the airfield. It lay there alone — open, palm upwards, clean, capable, solitary.

I could not tear my eyes from it. The hand is the artisan of the soul. It is the second member of the human trinity of head and hand and heart. A man has no faculty more human than his hand, none more beautiful nor expressive nor productive. To see this hand lying alone, as though contemptuously cast aside, no longer a part of a man, no longer his help, was to see war in all its wantonness; it was to see the especially brutal savagery of our own technique of rending, and it was to see men at their eternal worst, turning upon one another, tearing one another, clawing at their own innards with the maniacal fury of the pride-possessed.

Feeling sad is a good way to describe the effects of reading this memoir, and at the same time knowing sadness is probably a huge motivator for writing it. A very interesting book about someone who wouldn't be considered a "model" soldier. He signed up for the marines after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and began combat in the Pacific theater.

From the beginning in boot camp you can tell he has a penchant for trouble, but this is the kind of guy who wants to get into trouble -- he's just a boundary tester. He doesn't discuss World War II in great depth, almost as if he doesn't want you to know the worst details. He rarely mentions names and uses nickn A very interesting book about someone who wouldn't be considered a "model" soldier.

He rarely mentions names and uses nicknames everywhere. His commentary on his life of a soldier is astoundinge: he ends up in the brig several times, has interesting plots to steal food, ends up with a treasure trove of cigars, talks his way onto a Navy ship, his disdain for the authority of officers is always present, etc.

His time on Australia is almost surreal. Kind of a "what do you expect when you expect guys to fight and die and then spend a couple months in paradise". He takes full advantage of his time there. I thought his final comment on the atomic bomb was interesting, he didn't seem to approve of it.

To me, it seemed as if he was saying that the soldiers signed up to fight and die, therefore, invading Japan was their duty. This book is actually more memoir than a history. Leckie has written some of my favorite histories, especially military history. He served during WWII. From his entry into the service through each deployment The book doesn't emphasize military actions though they are described but on his day to day life. Living and waiting on Guadalcanal and later deployments along with "more scintillating activities" between deployments.

This is a good insight in This book is actually more memoir than a history. This is a good insight into the background of an American Marine and a historical writer. Enjoyable but in my opinion has not stood the test of time and seems a touch lightweight by today's more forceful standards. I thought this book was a great narrative of Mr Leckie's experiences while fighting the Japanese. You could almost feel the either, the constant heat or the constant wet. The conditions these men, young men, lived, were at times, no better than sleeping on the ground with your poncho over your body to keep the rain from coming straight onto your face.

You still got wet but at least you weren't kept awake by rain in your face. He wrote about his friends and the adventures they had that were fun wh I thought this book was a great narrative of Mr Leckie's experiences while fighting the Japanese. He wrote about his friends and the adventures they had that were fun while in Melbourne, Australia waiting to be shipped out Guma after fighting in Guadalcanal. He wrote about the small things that he and several friends enjoyed.

Like a good book to read, the debates about everything and a great cup of coffee that he would brew up at night. You also learned of how our wounded were shipped in and out of battle and the damage done to bodies and souls.

He wrote about the everlasting friendships that carried into old age. He also wrote of the sorrow he felt for the rest of his life, so far, of friends lost in battle and still remembered their names and personality traits.

You also read how the Japanese fought to their death never giving up. How they would come head on into gun fire wave after wave, much like the Marines. The book is full of stories that only someone who has faced down death in battle could know. If you have ever been in the service you will know about how friendships endure through the years and if you have ever faced life or death battles you will understand what is being written and maybe think of a service buddy that you haven't called in awhile.

Robert Leckie enjoyed a long career as a writer of military history. He came by that interest from his service as a Marine in World War II; this book details his wartime experience. Far from nostalgic, his war left him cynical and a bit sad. Having enlisted in the Marines just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, his account of boot camp at Parris Island is a vivid look at that trial by fire.

Once he ships out, he is thrown into battle at Guadalcanal. The young leatherneck makes friends an Robert Leckie enjoyed a long career as a writer of military history. The young leatherneck makes friends and finds himself in two battles, one against the Japanese and the other with his own officers. Many of them are not to be trusted here. He finds happiness with his buddies and a long interlude in Australia, where the Marines impress a fair number of young ladies.

Back in battle, he becomes saddened by the waste of war, saying often that he hopes his fallen comrades "rest in peace. In the end, his feelings give way to a lyricism that makes the book emotionally affecting. Nov 27, Ashley rated it it was amazing.

But I'm terrible with dates and details and there's a lot I still don't know. He had me watch the show The Pacific, which this book is based on. I learned a lot about the Pacific war that I never knew before. James Badge Dale plays Robert Leckie and he does a great job narrating this book. I learned even more. I thought WW2 was mostly about the Nazis But now I know. They don't teach you everything in school. This was a great book. Was very eye opening to just how severe the brutalities of war are.

I was surprised at just how beautiful and contemplative much of the prose was for being written by a battle-hardened soldier. War books are stories of tragedy and suffering but also of valor. I thought this one would be an inspirational and gripping account of heroism in the war against Japan. What a disappointment. Leckie's memoir of his experience fighting in the 1st Marine Division contains very little combat. Only in the last 30 pages of his book, when he tells the story how he got wounded, does he describe combat in any length and detail.

He is full of hate his word towards higher-ranked enlisted men, his officers, and even civilians who tell him what he can or can't do. According to him, all officers are idiots who deserve nothing but contempt. He dares to speak for the whole Marine Corps when he writes of "the common dislike for officers and for discipline" or the "calm contempt for officers" that supposedly pervades the military.

He even fantasizes more than once about murdering his own officer for no other reason than his Leckie's resentment for being forced to obey an order. Leckie isn't the first Private in history to resent an officer or think he would do a much better job leading his regiment. But Leckie's mantra against all authority is subversive, the very opposite attitude that a Marine should have. Strangely, he does not have any of the same hatred for the Japanese. On the contrary, he writes that he "pitied them.

Now to pity the enemy is madness or it is a sign of strength. He also describes his own pop-sociology for how the Marines ought to be run, which sounds a lot like Marxist class struggle: "The Marine Corps is a fermenter; it is divided into two distinct groups - the Old Salts [veterans] and the Boots [newly enlisted] - who are forever warring; the Old Salt defending his past and his traditions against the furious assault of the Boot who is striving to exalt the Present at expense of the Past, seeking to deflate the aplomb of the Old Salt by collapsing this puffed up Past upon which it reposes The moment he ceases to slash at Tradition with the bright saber of present deeds, the instant he restrains that impetuous sword hand, trusting instead to the calm eye of appraisal - upon that change he passes over to the ranks of the Old Salts and ceases to be a Boot forever.

Youth rebels and age conserves; between them, they advance. The Marines will cease to win battles the moment either camp achieves clear-cut ascendancy. Keep them mean and nasty, like starving beasts, says the Corps, and they will fight better. In fact, sex is one theme that he seems to be obsessed about because he repeats it over and over again. It ruins the story. One night while on leave in Australia, he returns late to his ship and is arrested and sentenced to several days in the brig.

For Leckie, such an act is a sign of good warfighting material: "A man who lands in the brig is apt to be a man of bold spirit and independent mind, who must occasionally rebel against the harsh and unrelenting discipline of the camp.

I already found myself questioning the truthfulness of his account, especially the words he puts in other people's mouths. By not including real names, I had the impression that he wrote a novel, not a memoir. Oh, and he's a thief too.

At one point he stole food and cigars that belonged to the officers out of the PX tent during one of the campaigns. They were "rightfully ours," he assures us. Helmet for My Pillow was a big disappointment. Oct 08, Vincent rated it really liked it. This was a good book by Leckie of his experiences as a Marine. It struck me that that book was more concisely and better written and presented than this "Helmet for my Pillow" work however upon some investigation I found that "Helmet" was his first book and the other at least 15 years later and that Leckie was a rather prolific author of war history most heavily from WWII era.

Maybe a better book to understand combat Marines in This was a good book by Leckie of his experiences as a Marine. Sledge - but both are good - the Sledge book was written 24 years after the Helmet and the author would have had more maturity and perspective.

Never Judge. Here is one of the most riveting first-person accounts ever to come out of World War II. In Helmet for My Pillow we follow 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.

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Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by: Robert Leckie

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