Read Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII by Chester Nez Judith Schiess Avila Online


The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos. Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speakThe first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos. Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty- nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare....

Title : Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII
Author :
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ISBN : 9780425244234
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 310 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII Reviews

  • Petra X
    2019-03-03 02:18

    It is arguable whether the Japanese or the Nazis were the most cruel in WWII, neither showed the slightest mercy or even acknowledgement of their enemies' humanity. Far from it, they each went all out to exterminate from the earth those they felt didn't deserve even life. All in the name of some ugly character with a warped philosophy or an equally warped divine emperor both of whom inspired religious devotion as if they were God incarnate.Now read this, from Code Talker:"The Japanese who held Guadalcanal were trained not to surrender. Their war strategy revolved around the Bushido code, an ancient way of the warrior first developed by the Samurai. This code of conduct extolled loyalty and obedience. Soldiers were required to fight to the death and take as many of their enemy with them as they could. Even facing impossible odds, Japanese soldiers chose to blow themselves up hoping to blow American soldiers up rather than surrender. They would die for their Emperor."Substitute a couple of words here and there, think of recent events, think of ISIS and their ilk. It seems that we learn of history so that we don't repeat it, but some of them learn history to take inspiration in evil. And what of the Japanese who didn't say anything, or the Germans neither of them got a free pass, but these days well you get my drift.______________This is really a 4 star book. But the author deserves the extra star. There was not enough about the code (in fact, almost nothing) and an awful lot about the battles for Guadacanal and Peleliu. The worst thing about the book was the way the Navajos were treated after the war. Back to 'we don't serve Indians here'. As their jobs as code talkers and more importantly code-developers, were protected information, not declassified until 1968, the soldiers had to present themselves as very ordinary infantrymen rather than dedicated specialists which would have got them much better jobs, in fact it might have got them jobs.______________

  • Amber Foxx
    2019-03-21 05:18

    Veterans’ Honor SongI read this book a while back, before I joined Goodreads. The author, the last of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, died yesterday. Before I read this book, I'd heard of him and the work this group of Marines did, but I had no understanding of the danger they endured. The book not only tells of the development of the code, and the battles in which it was used, but shares the author’s life growing up on the Navajo reservation, and his life after the war. His humor, humility and wisdom make this worth reading. I’m not a war buff. That’s not why I read it. This is a human story that includes a war. The author doesn’t make himself into a hero, though many people would say he was one, and he doesn’t glorify war or his part in it. His account of war tells of his friendships with his fellow code talkers, and shows compassionate awareness of the indigenous people of the Pacific islands where major WWII battles took place, destroying their homelands. For a reader not acquainted with Navajo culture and who has never heard that difficult language spoken, it’s still accessible, though if you have some familiarity with both the book will mean even more. I was the only member of my book club with that background when we read it, and all of us liked this book, and felt that in reading it we had met a man worth knowing.Honor his memory and that of all the Code Talkers. Read this book.

  • Steve
    2019-03-14 00:18

    A (highly personal) memoir, in the truest sense of the word, but also an utterly fascinating peek into an extraordinary footnote in military (particularly WWII, Pacific Theater) history. The book contains more than enough informative history to satisfy military history buffs, the author's experiences make a cat's nine lives seem modest, and the author sprinkled the book with sufficient seasonings (or tastes and reminiscences) of Navajo culture, religion, philosophy, and ... well ... beauty and grace, to make the whole experience worthwhile.An extraordinary tale of what could have been an incredibly ordinary, unobserved life ... that, instead, is remarkable not only for how far the author traveled, what he (and his colleagues) accomplished, how long he was (and his colleagues were) prohibited from telling his tale, and how the human condition - at a different time and place - in a different culture animated by different religious beliefs - filled with joy and sorrow and love and loss - makes for a remarkably compelling life story.As for the book, the highly personal nature of the narrative is, arguably, its greatest strength and its most profound (and potentially distracting) weakness. First and foremost, I'm pretty sure that, if I had ever had the opportunity to meet Chester Nez, I would have like him and enjoyed sharing a meal with him. And there's no doubt that I came to respect him. But his remarkable life didn't prepare him to write history (let alone literature), and I fear his co-authors tried too hard to permit his voice and tone to ring true. It's admirable, to a certain extent, but it ultimately renders the book uneven with more neither-fish-nor-fowl (not quite history, not quite biography, not simply a memoir) for my tastes. In other words, if, for example, you're a serious military history (particularly academic military history) reader, this may drive you to distraction. But - to be fair, for better or worse - it is (transparently and accurately) billed as a memoir.I remember hearing and reading about Nez a number of years back, when the book was first out - and I don't recall why I didn't buy/read the book at the time. Here's a taste of some of coverage: Nor do I remember why I didn't read it after Nez passed away, and he was again in the mainstream media: (OK, OK, I never saw the movie Windtalkers, and I understand I didn't miss anything.) In any event, I'm glad I finally got around to reading the book.As an aside, if you're fascinated with the Nazi Enigma code, Alan Turing, Bletchley Park, Ultra, or, for example, the (nicely done) somewhat recent Imitation Game movie, this story, the author's life, and this book, represent the most polar opposite experience imaginable. That doesn't make it any more or less important or interesting - it's just completely different, in every conceivable way.

  • Beck Frost
    2019-03-08 23:15

    Open to the pictures section and look at the Chester Nez featured on the last page. The one with him sitting with his kids and grandkids. It becomes very easy to imagine this man sitting and engaging with the woman who interviewed him. This is the man whose voice enters your head and you see his shoulders move up and down. The occasional hand expression. The laughter when he remembers something funny. This book feels alive with his simple way of telling the story that is his life as he remembers it. I enjoyed listening to him tell me his tales. I felt a warm presence which I guess is a wonderful thing from a memoir, right?

  • David
    2019-03-06 03:22

    The use of Navajo "code talkers" by the Marine Corps in World War II makes for a marvelous tale, in the hands of a skilled writer; unfortunately, Ms. Avila doesn't fit the job description. With this kind of subject matter, Code Talker could, and should, have been a better read.Perhaps, in the future, this story will find a more adept voice.

  • Su Armitage
    2019-03-15 00:16

    I really really liked this book. It's many books in one - a book on religion, a biography, and a history of Native Americans in the Pacific in World War 2. Nez provdes a large window into Navajo culture and the foundation of its belief system. With the strength and support of his family, Nez succeeded in the white man's world. As a small child, he was sent to an English-only boarding school far away from his homeland, run by an administration that had no interest in the children as people, but saw them only as inferior savages. But he made it through. In spite of this treatment (and the treatment of the Native Americans by white invaders), he still signed up to fight for "his country" in the Pacific. Time after time, as white battalions and troops were sent to R & R in Australia or Hawaii, Nez and his fellow code-talkers were kept on the front lines, for months at a time, being considered too important to the war effort to let them have rest & rehab. He made it through that too. Back home after the war, he succeeded in college, living in certain towns where he couldn't be served food or drink in some establishments because he wasn't white. Still, he made it through. He lived with nightmare of battles, Japanese banzai soldiers blowing themselves up before his eyes, remembrances of American soldiers decapitated and tortured after being held prisoner by the Japanese. His family and culture gave him therapy through two different "sings", years apart, and both were successful in relieving him of his nightmares. In our culture, veterans can go through years and years of psychological and psychiatric counseling, at great expense, and not often successful. In Nez's culture, the family, the people and the suffering person know that something in the sufferer's life is out of balance, and with faith and love, balance is regained. Now, I know that doesn't always work - some illnesses with physical causes or contributing causes, need medication to be cured. But it's amazing what faith and love will heal! Nez made it through!

  • GymGuy
    2019-02-27 01:12

    Disappointing.I guess I'm going to rate this differently than most. I thought the part about creating the Navajo code was interesting, but as a whole, it felt the book was more like reading a stranger's diary. Shortly after moving to AZ, I visited the Heard Museum, which is primarily dedicated to Native American culture. As part of their tour, you get a total indoctrination into the horrors of the White Man. After having heard enough of that I left. Maybe I'm hard-hearted, but I refuse to feel guilt for what previous generations did. I wasn't born and I don't feel that I need to bear that burden. I bring this up because about a quarter of this book is the same story of death marches and Indian schools. It was a horrible time and one we need to learn from, but I refuse to feel personally responsible.I've read several novels about Pacific battles and basic training. Most of that was a repeat. I thought the Navajo coding was interesting, but reading chapter after chapter of it was pretty repetitive. I felt that the prose was way to journalistic. There was little emotion, and because it was a straight narrative, rather uninteresting.Then there was the unevenness. Some paragraphs were written very simplistically. I'm assuming those were taken directly from Nez. Then there would be some dissertation about a ship or a battle or a history lesson that seemed to come off the internet or from some scholarly WWII research. So which was it? A history lesson or a memoir? The rest of the story, while perhaps interesting to many, just didn't really interest me. While sometimes life is more exciting than fiction, it generally isn't...that's why we have novels. In this case, amateurish writing style and a story that would be more interesting to family and friends made for a rather boring read to an outsider.

  • Ingrid
    2019-03-01 02:08

    Chester Nez was raised on 'the Rez'. As a young man he was taken miles from his home to the "White School". They cut his hair, changed his name, and like so many, had his language nearly beaten out of him.During World War II, when the Japanese were breaking every code, when young American soldiers were dying at alarming rates in the South Pacific, a secret plan was formulated.The United States Marine Corps sent men to the Navajo Reservations of the Southwest, looking for Native American's who were fluent in both English and Navajo. A few still existed. Chester Nez was one of those young men.Navajo is a tonal language, but even Navajo men who have been raised away from the language, then return to their homes, do not speak the same as those who heard the language from birth. It could not be perfectly duplicated - what made it perfect for a Code.This book is a fascinating look at a secret code that heavily impacted the United States winning the War in the Pacific. Until 1968, the code was top secret. These hero soldiers went back to their families, and could never tell anyone what they did during the war.Chester Nez explains that even though what they broadcasted was their language, it was still Code - a tank might be a turtle. Impressive to me, was the fact that as badly as they had been treated, the Navajo men who went to war, went as proud citizens of the United States of America (though denied many rights of citizenship), and as proud Navajo Warriors, protecting 'their' country.On July 27, 2001, President Bush presented 4 of the 5 living Code Talkers with the Congressional Gold Medal. The backside of the medal reads, "We Used Our Language to Defeat The Enemy".This is a wonderful, inspirational book about men of great honor and courage, written by the last surviving original Code Talker.

  • Kiki
    2019-02-22 22:59

    Native men growing up in the 30s were uniquely equipped to excel at a top secret wartime mission. They were in that position because of a bizarre combination of the native life they loved and the US government's attempt to take it away from them. Their commitment to defending America after cruel treatment by the government is phenomenal, they were able to separate their love of country from abuse by the American government. On a much broader scale, that is a life lesson that is going to stick with me.The book was extremely informative. The war recollections and Chester's thoughts about his purpose in the war were very interesting and read like a novel. There was definitely a disconnect in the style of writing, more "this happened and I was there" rather than "this happened to me". It didn't take away from the book, rather, it contributed to understanding the emotional toll WWII took on Chester Nez, and all of the combatants. I especially appreciated the insights into how the war was different for native men. The book was billed as a memoir, and I think the two authors weren't as excited about relaying Chester's life after the war. It felt like bullet points until they got to a piece about his involvement in the war being recognized and honored. A fascinating story, and learning some of the details about the famous code talkers makes me respect their contribution even more.

  • Karen Fisher-Alaniz
    2019-03-07 06:59

    This is the memoir of Chester Nez, the last surviving member of the original 29 Navajo code talkers. With so many books, information, and even a movie on the subject, some might argue that we already know all there is to know. Right? Wrong! Mr. Nez's book, along with co-author Judith Avila is a treasure trove of personal, firsthand information. He is the only one of the code talkers to write a memoir. That is what makes this a powerful memoir. Clearly in his own voice, we learn all about what it was like, beginning with his life with his Navajo family. To understand his service to his country, one must know where he was literally coming from. This background information is important to any story, but especially important for Mr. Nez' because his culture is one that is not known or understood by most Americans. He is a hero, though I'm sure he would balk at that. Read this memoir. It will live in your heart forever. Thank you, Mr. Nez and thank you, Judith Avila! This story is truly priceless!

  • MaryLynn
    2019-03-04 06:01

    I don't love nonfiction, and I don't enjoy books about war (Killer Angels being the exception), so I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this book. It starts slow because it begins with the battle on Guadalcanal. But then it goes back to the childhood of Chester Nez, one of the original 29 code talkers in WWII. I learned so much about the Navajo, and because I had started to care about Chester, I found the battles in the Pacific during WWII much more interesting than I would have supposed. It is written very simply, without any glorification of the individual, his people or the war.

  • Shannon
    2019-03-15 06:06

    Fascinating memoir of one of the last original code talkers of WWII. I loved the story and the richness of details about his life, however; I give it 3 stars because it just felt flat. And what a pity because it's a fascinating story. I wish his memoir had been written by a better skilled writer, but with that being said, I would still recommend it.

  • Lncropper
    2019-03-14 03:04

    I really loved this book! It is a memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers. Even though it is hard to read about his war experiences, it is also inspiring. I absolutely recommend it.

  • Paul Pessolano
    2019-02-23 06:20

    “Code Talker” by Chester Nez with Judith Schiess Avila, published by Berkley Caliber.Category – MemoirChester Nez is the only surviving member of the original “Code Talkers”. In 1942 Japan declared war on the United States by attacking the United States Naval Base in Pearl Harbor. Japan had seized control of just about all the islands in the South Pacific. The United States had to take control of these islands to win the war. A major problem for the United States was that Japan was able to intercept our coded messages and knew in advance what military actions we were taking. An ingenious plan was put in place to confuse the Japanese. All radio transmissions would be made in the Navajo language. A language, that was never written down and was very difficult to learn and understand. This baffled the Japanese so much that they never were able to break the code. The coded was so important to the United States that the “Code Talkers” were sworn never to tell anyone of what they actually did during the war. Their actions and the code were classified because the United States thought that it might be used in other situations. The secret Navajo code was kept for twenty-three years and was not declassified until 1968. These brave Navajo’s were now able to tell their families and the world what they did in the South Pacific during World War Two.This book also tells of the early life of Chester Nez, growing up on an Indian Reservation and his struggle to obtain an education. It tells of the deep chasm that existed between the white man’s world and that of the Navajos.It also tells of Chester’s struggle to readjust after coming home from the South Pacific. He was haunted by nightmares that probably found their basis in the fact that he could not open up and tell of his time in the South Pacific.The one major theme that keeps coming up throughout the book is the total dedication that these men had to the United States. They never wavered in their support to the country that took their land away and forced them to live on reservations.

  • Wesley Roth
    2019-03-18 05:05

    "If the Japanese Imperial Intelligence Team could have decoded the Navajo messages ... the history of the Pacific War might have turned out completely different". This was an editorial of a Tokyo newspaper soon after the end of World War II. "Code Talker" was the only memoir of one of the original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII, Chester Nez.This was a fascinating history book, told in first person by Chester to author Judith Schiess Avila. The reader learns of Chester's childhood on "the Checkerboard", his years at boarding school and his decision to join the Marines and become one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers. The descriptions of the battles of WWII are very real and the reader becomes totally immersed in the war. The code was never broken by the Japanese and was kept Top Secret until 1968. The book's later chapters cover Chester's post-war life, his marriage and children and the heartache of losing some of his children. The reader's heart jumps for joy after the Code Talkers are recognized for their bravery and secrecy many times over, including by President Bush in 2001. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Native American history, war history or any lover of biographies. Top notch. I was sad to learn of his passing earlier this month. RIP Mr. Nez. Thank you for you and your brothers' service to our country.

  • Linda Owen
    2019-02-26 02:16

    Not a work of literature, but a great piece of "as told to" reporting, augmented with painstaking historical and cultural research. Against the hellish backdrop of the war in the South Pacific, we are shown the bravery, dignity and sense of duty that the Navajo code talkers brought to their assignment. These were key values in a culture that had survived everything the White Man did to try to eradicate it, including boarding schools, the Long Walk and the Great Livestock Massacre. In spite of it all, Chester Nez and his Navajo comrades deeply believed in their country, and once the code was finally declassified and its importance widely known, their work became a source of great pride among the Navajo nation. In a poignant final chapter, Nez sums up the lasting significance of their lives:"My fellow code talkers and I have become part of a new oral and written tradition, a Navajo victory, with our culture contributing to our country's defeat of a wily foe. The story of the code talkers has been told on the Checkerboard and the reservation and recorded in the history books forever. Our story is not one of sorrow, like the Long Walk and the Great Livestock Massacre, but one of triumph."

  • John
    2019-03-05 06:09

    Code Talker is one of the best books I've read on the subject of the Navajo Code Talkers, not because it gives you lots of details on the subject, but because it's one of the few books written from the perspective of the Navajo Code Talker himself. These are the memories of 90-year-old man, and as such, some of the details are a bit sketchy or flawed, but you really get to see World War II through the eyes of a traditional Navajo. Where the book really shines is when Nez discusses how the ways of war conflicted with Navajo beliefs, and how his war experiences affected his life. Yes, it might have been nice if co-writer Judith Schiess-Avila would have added a bit more historical detail, but it's really unnecessary. Nez's voice and background really come through here, and the effect is like having a nice long talk with the man himself. Well-done.

  • Jon
    2019-03-01 05:16

    I enjoyed reading this book because this story shows how America can use the unique talents of our population for innovative solutions to the problems confronting our nation. The Navajo language is very complex and as of the 1930's was not written down, so the men who spoke Navajo were able to pass secret information without the Japanese breaking the code. I also respect the courage and self-reliance of Chester Nez and the other Code Talkers. They excelled in Marine Boot Camp because they were raised in the harsh environment of sheep herders. They knew how to live close to the land and were not soft or lazy.I am very glad that Chester Nez met Judith Schiess Avila and they collaborated on this great book. As the WWII generation departs us there is a possibility that the record of their deeds could be lost. At least this story is now laid down in black ink on white pages.

  • Maureen Dezell
    2019-02-23 03:07

    I joined a book club for the first time a couple of months ago. This is the second book we read, and I highly recommend it. This autobiography gives great insight into how Native Americans were treated by the federal government (to name one, the Livestock Massacre is horrifying) and white Americans (rampant racism). It was reminiscent of today's efforts to marginalize and oppress blacks and Hispanics. I've been thinking about the book daily since I finished reading it and can't get my head around how people who think they are superior treat others because of the color of their skin. Extremely troubling first-hand account. The book also vividly details how war is hell. I felt I was on the beaches of the South Pacific during World War II while reading the author's descriptions.

  • Ashleigh
    2019-03-08 00:26

    Fascinating memoir telling the story of Mr. Nez's upbringing on the Checkerboard Mesa in New Mexico, Navajo home life in the 1920s, time at boarding school, and his work developing and using the Navajo code in the Pacific theater of WWII. The hard life these men lived helped them in wartime, and it was interesting to hear a firsthand account of life at the Indian boarding schools of the 1920s. The Navajo emphasis on balance allowed him to treat his war horror (PTSD today) with community ceremonies and heal. May he walk in beauty.With beauty before me I walkWith beauty behind me I walkWith beauty above me I walkWith beauty around me I walkIt has become beauty again.From the Navajo Blessing Way

  • Amber Spencer
    2019-03-08 23:12

    I really enjoyed this book about something so amazing and the valor and honor of those who created the code. Visiting some of the places some Navajo people lived while I finished this book made it extra interesting.

  • Lindsey Sanders
    2019-03-07 02:12

    Excellent book. Fascinating to learn how the Code Talkers came about. Also a lot about how the Navajo at the time grew up. I really enjoyed the parts about Navajo traditions and ceremonies. Definitely worth the read.

  • Chris
    2019-03-02 03:59

    Amazing book.

  • RJay
    2019-02-27 22:56

    When I first learned about this book, I was intrigued by the concept and looked foward to reading it. I had heard about the Navajo code-talkers but had not realized how significant their role really was. The 29 + 3 Navajo who created and implemented the code, plus the hundreds of others who followed their lead, were true heroes and to be commended. But this book doesn't do any of them justice. In my opinion, that is due to the style of writing, which is all 'tell' and very little 'show'. Even in a memoir, readers want to feel they are in the middle of the action, and 'telling' what happened only distances the reader from the tension and immediacy of what those involved experienced. My rating is not based on the story's merit ... it's based on the book being poorly written. For readers who have a great deal of patience, this memoir may be well worth readiing.

  • Chris
    2019-02-25 01:26

    Glad this man's life has been told and it's an eye opening/revealing glimpse into a life of hardships and survival before, during, and after the war. Chester Nez is the last surviving code talker and his story is fascinating. We hear what it was like growing up during the 1920's and 1930's in rural New Mexico without electricity, running water, or even a modern building and being hungry, not eating for four days at at time. Then we are told of the killing of the Navajo goat and sheep herds by the government over concern about overgrazing after the Dust Bowl. Off to school where he was hit if he spoke Navajo. Indians couldn't even vote in NM at that time. Yet he signs up with enthusiasm to defend "his" country when the Japanese attack. I wanted to know more about his activities during the war as a code talker but I found the cultural background even more fascinating as he tried to live in two worlds that had dramatically different viewpoints. His service as a Marine was the stuff of legend yet he was not promoted beyond PFC and because of the unique nature of his job he never got R&R. He was in the thick of it continuously. He went to Guadalcanal in November 1942. When the 1st Marine Division went to Australia for R&R he was pulled back at the last minute to stay with the relieving 2nd Marine Division to mop up the island. When the 2d Marine Division left to go on R&R to Hawaii he was pulled at the last minute to go to the 3rd Marine Division and attack Bougainville. Then Guam and finally the worst of the worst, Peleliu, where he was back with the 1st Marine Division. He was headed for Iwo Jima when the points system cranked in and he was able to rotate home and miss that battle. Four island assaults left their toll on him as he struggled with what we call PTSD but Navajo rituals like the Enemy Way and others helped him as much as any psychiatric treatment. During the Korean War he was called back to active duty but did guard duty in Idaho among other things. He went to college in Kansas, married, divorced and lost three children in tragic circumstances. And oh, his top secret missions/job during WWII couldn't be mentioned as they were national security, at least until 1968! Chester takes great pride in his role in the Marine campaigns of the Pacific but it's not a braggadocio type of pride. It's the humble, self-effacing professionalism of a man who not only conquered the Japanese but his own demons. Walk in beauty Chester Nez. Thank you Judith Avila for telling his story.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-18 23:10

    I had read earlier versions of this story as it is written by my sister-in-law, and the beginning of the book seemed to have a lot of the flavor of that first version, though that was written as a novel as opposed to a memoir. I think it took me quite a few chapters to start to get the feel of the newer version -- though I don't know why that would make a difference! It is definitely a well-polished book with almost excruciating attention to detail. I say excruciating not to be critical, but I don't particularly like a lot of description, and this book definitely pays a lot of attention to surroundings and sounds, etc. The story itself is very interesting and I became much more engaged after the battles and the back and forth to Chester's childhood. It is, I can be certain, a meticulously documented story, and it was an interesting contrast to another book I recently read about an American soldier who was captured by the Japanese on the Pacific islands. It was very nice to read that Chester believed (from what he witnessed) that the Americans treated the Japanese prisoners very well. (The Japanese did not, or at least from this one particular soldier's experience.)The use of the Navajo language as a code in war almost seems too easy for the U.S. government to ever employ. I would imagine it was fought over and poo poohed by many high ranking officials and was therefore kept a huge secret much longer than it ever would have been if it was THEIR idea. The fact that the original coding system (shackle) took almost four hours to decode whereas the Navajo code took minutes, would definitely change the outcome of a war. How could it not? I think it is a great tragedy that these Navajo solders were not recognized much, much earlier for their amazing contributions. (I don't believe it was because they wanted to keep it in the vault in case they wanted to use it again. I think it was one of those things that could only be employed once ... because as was implied in the book, there were other Navajos recognizing their language and making innocent comments.)Anyway, it is an amazing tribute to Chester Nez and his fellow code talkers, and I highly recommend it!

  • James
    2019-03-07 00:06

    The book ‘Code Talker,’ tells the life story of Chester Nez, one of the original Navajo Code Talkers in World War II. Chester Nez grew up in Arizona and went to many boarding schools to learn how to speak English. When he was a senior in high school, the Marines offered him and other seniors a chance to join the Marines and become a code talker. The Marines only accepted 30 Navajos. Chester and his best friend, Roy Begay, made the cut. They had to make it through boot camp first. It was easy for them because they were used to living in the desert, so they were used to going long periods without water. One Navajo was taken away to do other special duties, so it made the remaining Navajos the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers. After boot camp, they were not allowed to go home even though their parents didn’t know they were in the Marines. Instead the Navajos had to write a code for their language. This was very hard, because there was no written language for Navajo, so they had to make the whole code up from scratch. After they wrote the code, they were sent to Gaudcannal. Chester Nez fought in Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, Peleliu, and Angaur, fighting in the First and Third Marine divisions. There was a lack of code talkers, so they weren’t allowed to go home until they fought in many battles. The book tells many details about Chester’s fighting experiences. Chester got out of fighting in the battle of Iwo Jima. The Navajo code was the only code that was never broken, and the Navajos never made a single mistake during their time of service. He could tell no one about the code he helped create until 1968 when the code was declassified. The book tells about the secrecy after the war and the significant recognition the Navajos finally received.I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about a first-hand view of fighting in WWII. This story is different than most WWII accounts because the Navajos couldn’t tell anyone about what they did during the war.

  • Kathleen Hagen
    2019-02-25 00:01

    Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by one of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WW II, by Chester Nez with and Judith Schiess Avila, narrated by David Colacci, produced by Tantor Audio, downloaded from is the story of Chester Nez, one of the original 29 Navajo Indians who worked together to create a code from the Navajo language for the Marines to use during WW II. The language is so complicated, and it isn’t a written language, and the Japanese, who usually could figure out any of the codes, never cracked this one. The whole part of the book dealing with the creation and use of the code is utterly fascinating. And Chester’s love of his country and willingness to do anything his country required is truly amazing in light of his own life experience with White America. He was sent to an Indian boarding school where they punished kids severely for using the Navajo language. But thank heavens they didn’t succeed in having him forget it. He and the other men who initially invented the code had to be fluent in English and in Navajo, so most of them did go to boarding school. During the war the code talkers were very much respected for a service that no one else could provide, and particularly on Guadal Canal, the use of the code changed the battle outcome in favor of the allies. Then he and the other code talkers came home. They were not allowed to talk about the code and what they had contributed to the war effort. And, except when they wore their Marines uniforms they didn’t receive respectful treatment from White America. And when they finally did receive recognition, after the code was declassified in 1968, it was too late for most of them who had already died. This is an amazing book which should make all of us proud of some wonderful Americans, and it should make us ashamed for how they were generally treated before and after the war.

  • Caprice Hokstad
    2019-02-27 05:07

    After the American government shunted the Navajo people into reservations and mistreated them in unconscionable ways (if the sheep herds had to be thinned because of overgrazing, there's still absolutely no excuse for not preserving the meat and wool in the middle of the Great Depression!) it would have been very easy for them to decide they owed NOTHING to this country. At all. Ever. But during WWII, when Marine recruiters came looking for men who spoke both Navajo and English, they VOLUNTEERED. The only reason these men spoke any English was because of cruel boarding schools where they were starved, abused, and punished for speaking their native tongue before anyone even bothered to TEACH them a single word of English. Incredible. They served with great honor and distinction, and that was WITHOUT taking into account their secret purpose. They didn't sit in safe rooms back home, chatting on the radio! They trained hard and were great marksmen. They had to endure unspeakable conditions and fight against a terrible enemy. These men were heroes.I completely agree the Code Talkers deserved every single honor bestowed after the secret was finally released 23 years after the war ended. However, I wonder if it may have been a bad idea to declassify in light of the fact that their BRILLIANT code, based on a near-dead language, was never broken. I worry there may come a time when our computers fail us and we might need such an important asset again.Yes, the memoir's narrative dragged in places. No, I would likely have not read it if the library hadn't had the summer reading challenge and a copy available for me to borrow. But I am REALLY glad I chose this book from the list.

  • Ross Blocher
    2019-03-16 05:11

    Chester Nez was the last living of the 29 original code talkers, a group of Navajo men whose language-based code was used in the Pacific theater of World War II. It was never deciphered by enemy forces, and remained a secret for 23 years after the war's end until the US government declassified its existence. Chester, along with hundreds of other code talkers, kept his story hidden for all those years. He was later honored for his achievements, even winning a Congressional Gold Medal.In this account, Chester (with the help of co-author Judith Schiess Avila) tells the story of being raised in New Mexico, attending some pretty harsh-sounding grade schools, and then volunteering for service as a Marine. He is recruited with the original team that develops the Navajo code and then deployed to a series of islands to help fight the Japanese. When others get a chance to take some time off for rest & recreation, the code talkers are sent right back in to the next fray. This section of the book, with its descriptions of his grueling service on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam and Peleliu, is gripping and informative.After the war, Chester shares the rest of his life story - meeting his future wife, serving in the Korean War, getting married, struggling for work, having children, losing children, becoming an artist, suffering with nightmares, keeping his secret, getting divorced... and finally getting permission to share in 1968 what had occurred so many years before.It's a fascinating tale that did much to flesh out my understanding of WWII. The writing is uncomplicated - there are no artful turns of phrase or flourishes of prose, just a point-by-point recounting of one man's experience that invites much reflection.