Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII by Chester Nez, Judith Schiess Avila |, Audiobook (CD) | Barnes & Noble
Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII

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

4.5 40
by Chester Nez, Judith Schiess Avila, David Colacci
     
 

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In the 1920s, growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation wasn't easy. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing. The New Mexico summers were hot and the winters harsh. But the beautiful mesas provided bountiful land on which to raise sheep and goats, and the Navajo celebrated their spiritual connection to nature.His name wasn't Chester Nez.

Overview

In the 1920s, growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation wasn't easy. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing. The New Mexico summers were hot and the winters harsh. But the beautiful mesas provided bountiful land on which to raise sheep and goats, and the Navajo celebrated their spiritual connection to nature.His name wasn't Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn't stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing gave him the strength-both physical and mental-to excel as a Marine.During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare-and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.Chester Nez is the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine code talkers-and this is his story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Written with code talker scholar Schiess Avila, Nez's fascinating memoir details his experience as one of the original 29 "code talkers"-a group of Native American soldiers who kept U.S. transmissions safe from the Japanese during WWII. The code they used was developed using Navajo, an entirely spoken language. Most Marines had no idea that Nez or his fellow Navajos were involved with the highly classified code talker mission, and trusted the team despite the era's prevalent racial segregation. Though Nez grew up speaking Navajo, he was sent to government-run boarding schools, and forced to learn English. His facility with both languages allowed him to advance during his career with the Marines, and he counts the day of his enlistment (while still in high school) as the luckiest day of his life. Still, when Nez returned home to New Mexico in 1945, it would be another three years before Native Americans were allowed to vote. Though the last section of the book drifts, readers will be captivated by stories of Nez's childhood and his days as a Marine.
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From the Publisher
"A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation." —Kirkus
Library Journal
While the Japanese could figure out many World War II American codes and transmissions, they could not crack the Navajo Code Talkers. Nez was one of the original Code Talkers serving with the Marines. Here, with Avila (New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities Chautauqua Program), a Code Talker scholar, he tells of a hard New Mexico childhood in the Great Depression; the discrimination against Native Americans; how the code was developed from a language with no written background; his dangerous wartime experiences on Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Guam, and Peleliu; and his postwar life. The big picture of the Pacific Campaign is only selectively mentioned; instead there's lots of detail of personal effort, suffering, and boredom, summoning the true flavor of the war and a portrait of those who made a valuable contribution to the war effort. The appendix is a 1945 "Navajo Code Talkers Dictionary" from the U.S. Navy, also available online. VERDICT Accessible and compelling, this is recommended for general readers as well as World War II history buffs.
Library Journal - Audio
The Navajo author led a remarkable life. New Mexico was not kind to the Nez family, which struggled to earn a living from the land while doing without modern conveniences like electricity. Despite the hardships, Nez recounts the joy of a life lived in harmony with nature. After very difficult school years, Nez joined the U.S. military during World War II. He eventually became a Code Talker, one of the Navajo men tasked with creating a secret military language that the enemy couldn't decipher. The code Nez helped to develop proved instrumental in ensuring victory over the Japanese. David Colacci, past winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award, does admirable work voicing Nez and all the moments of surprise and wonder as he navigates American culture while guided by traditional Navajo sensibilities. VERDICT This compelling story will be of interest to World War II fans as well as enthusiasts of Native American history and culture. ["Accessible and compelling, this is recommended for general readers as well as World War II history buffs," read the review of the Berkeley Caliber: Penguin hc, LJ 10/1/12.—Ed.]—Denis Frias, Mississauga Lib. Syst., Ont.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452604985
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
12/30/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged CD
Sales rank:
1,203,685
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation." — Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

David Colacci has directed and performed in prominent theaters nationwide for the past thirty years. His credits include roles from Shakespeare to Albee. As a narrator, he has recorded authors ranging from Jules Verne to John Irving to Michael Chabon.

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