According to his wife, Vera Leckie, the book was first conceived in 1951 after Leckie saw a musical broadway show called South Pacific which apparently did not take the Pacific War too seriously. He walked out halfway through, and went to work on his memoirs saying, "I have to tell the story of how it really was. I have to let people know the war wasn’t a musical." Helmet For My Pillow is Leckie's first and bestselling book, and he went on to write more than 40 books on American war history, though Helmet For My Pillow is still Leckie's best-selling book to this very day.
Differences from the seriesEdit
- Leckie puts more detail on his experiences than the series does, however, this is because of obvious problems related to translating a book into a series, and they had to translate two to four memoirs, which means that the characters are not as fleshed out in the series as in the book.
- Characters such as "Chicken", "Oakstump", and "Souvenirs" are not seen in the series, also, in the memoirs, there is nothing to imply that Leckie has met Sidney Phillips.
- The book ends at Leckie in the hospital before he is sent home.
- Leckie does not find a Nambu in Cape Gloucester, another marine, nicknamed "Rutherford", finds a Japanese machine pistol at an unknown location. Also, while Leckie does take the pistol with him to the hospital, the medic gives it back to him, and Leckie in turn gives it back to Rutherford some time later.
- The events of Peleliu are differently portrayed, for instance, Leckie did not witness Hoosier getting wounded.
- Several minor characters in Leckie's storyline, particularly Gibson and Larkin, are based off of various characters mentioned by nickname from the memoir.
- Vera is never mentioned.
- Stella is not present in the original memoirs, but she is based off of one of the girls mentioned in the memoirs, Sheila, who let Leckie and his friend Chuckler spend the night in her house. However, Sheila and Leckie do not pursue a long term relationship as he and Stella do in the series, thus Leckie does not have a heartbreak in the book, his attack on Lt. Corrigan was out of a mutual dislike and drunkeness, which were still factors in the series, but are not as noticeable.
- At Guadalcanal, it never mentions the scene where the Japanese suicide kills himself and two Marines with a grenade, neither does it show the scene where the Marines mess around with a Japanese, before Leckie puts him out of his misery.
- It hardly ever reveals the real names of any of the characters, mainly referring to them by their nicknames.
- It doesn't mention Captain Jameson being relieved.
- In the book, it actually mentions Loudmouth's death at Cape Gloucester.
- Leckies training is actually shown from Boot Camp at Parris Island, to basic training in New River, to the preperation in New Zealand.
- The book's cover depicts a photo of Leckie wearing a sailor's cap.